The Second Verse is Much Better Than the First

I guess aside from the softball-size raindrops that fell early in the morn on day two of Iceland Airwaves the entire day was a total dynamite success.  People moan all the time about how the weather can get, but sometimes you just have to embrace the suck, put your head down and drive forward.  After a night of crazy dreams and waking up in more clothes that I thought I brought with me I got my motor started, slammed some bangers and mash got myself into town and interviewed a bad assed blues rock band called IKEA SATAN.

Photo from Facebook

No need to be mislead or wondering, IKEA SATAN are indeed the anti-advocate for the store within their name.  The band is all of three hard-charging Icelanders who take their music serious and take their stance on the obvious just as serious.  The band is Unnur Kolka, a cute and not too assuming masseuse by day the bands drummer/lead singer by night, Pétur Úlfur axe master and probable brainchild behind the band and Hannes Þór, bass player who was unfortunately not available for the interview.  Fret not, faithful followers for I have an invite to see them play privately at their practice space Saturday and it shall be a wonderful time for all.  Stay tuned for follow-up video footage and drop dead awesome photography of the session in later posts.

Photo Courtesy of Andy Keil

The interview train rolled along and my next big stop was a Q&A with Reykjavik’s premier reggae band, Ojba Rasta.  Formed in 2009, Ojba Rasta has taken notes from the deepest roots of reggae and ska music including (but not limited to) the Skatalites, Lee “Scratch” Perry and his holiness Bob Marley.  The interview was held at their practice space off the warf where the smell of haddock and cod were in the air.

This matters not for after the interview, we cruised out to their recording studio just outside of Reykjavík called Studio History.  As we rolled up, the space was a converted one-car garage, Gustav Ejstes the lead singer for the Swedish rock band Dungen was ripping, rapping and rhyming on a turntable.  That’s when you know the evening is going to turn out bad assed when one of the top acts for the night is getting stupid behind a turntable with a fake plastic saxophone and a flute.  Dude was hotter than two rats making it in a wool sock and I couldn’t have been more privileged.  Such is life and I could go on for hours, the night moved on from there.

Photo Courtesy of Andy Keil

The rain was torrential, painful and incredibly cold as we were dropped off in the city center.  Taking shelter from the cold in an English pub, the evening was still unfolding into something more dynamite.  The time came to take in some acts and the first on the plate was El Camino who was playing at Gaukur a Stöng.  I wanted El Camino, but I got Contalgen Funeral, a bluesy five-piece with a standup bass, trombone, dude on drums, a lady vocalist and a dreadlocked banjo player rocking tunes out like he had a voice passed down by Tom Petty.  The band had a solid sound and though there may have only been 20 people in the bar, the crowd was tight.  They switched between English and Icelandic lyrics and in all honesty, the Icelandic lyrics were much better and touted a folkier sound.  Truth be told, they had that Phish-like jam band mantra about them and it wasn’t until after three songs into the set that I realized I was watching the wrong band and in the wrong bar.  Well, it was a swing and a miss for the most part, but after a while I was knee deep in a band that was totally worth the mishap… epic fail, Pylinski.

By the time I realized my folly, finished my Icelandic brew and headed to the right venue, El Camino was already off the stage.  Such is life and my beer buzz was starting to kick in.  I had bigger plans for an hour starting at 2100 (that’s 9 P.M. for you non-European minded individuals).  Sinead O’Connor played a church called Frikirkjan and I had an eagle’s perch for the set.

Photo by Aaron Pylinski

Coming out to the stage, she was in light spirits and quipped, “Only a few steps away from the alter, so I’m going to be very, very naughty.”  Barefoot and black-clad, Sinead came out with her thick Irish brogue and titillating the congregation with quips on her family and the location for which she was playing. Sporting a Jesus T-shirt and a Rastafarian tattoo, the entire set was a paradoxical whimsy but well played from beginning to end.

Moving on and looking for a pick-me-up, I headed back to Gaukur a Stöng for a couple of pints and some dodgy music.  I then took in a band called Cliff Claven, which was a decent way to pass the time waiting for my next endeavor.  The band sounded a lot like Interpol with a more pronounced rock ‘n’ roll edge.  They drew in Iceland’s “finest” hipsters.  Subsequently, these hip lil bastards got stupid drunk, made complete asses of themselves and were quickly escorted out of the venue.  My hat’s off to the security, those hipster crack heads were so annoying they were on the verge of a Chicago-style beat-down.  Though they were monstrous-sized Viking dudes, it would have been my pleasure to close them out.

Photo Courtesy of Andy Keil

Hipster D-bags aside, the evening got better when my hetero life-mate, Andy Keil joined me to see the Swedish powerhouse rock monsters called Dungen.  If history proves me right, their lead singer was totally hanging out with us early in the evening at Studio History.  Not only was the set beyond amazing, the cats from Ojba Rasta met us out and took up camp right next to us in the crowd.

Photo Courtesy of Andy Keil

The evening ended out at Glaumbar with Endless Dark.  If you don’t know anything about these five dudes know that they don’t slow down any time during their set and they epitomize what its like to be on crack.  My ringing ears and my want for something savory took me out of the bar after the show and somehow managed three slices of pizza and rode a cab back to the hotel.  Now it all writes itself.  Standby for day three; drunker and more dangerous than ever.

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