My cohort Andy and I took a ride with Pétur from IKEA SATAN to their practice space creatively named the North Pole. Unnur, the drummer, and their bass player Hannes met us at the space for a practice session. From there, we took off to Amsterdam to watch Swords of Chaos and Liturgy play.
Swords of Chaos played an intense and erratic set. SOC killed it much like a predator in the wild. Though they had to adapt and overcome some power issues, they really didn’t miss a beat and kept the crowd teeming. The off-stage antics of their lead singer, Úlfur, was more than enough to make up for some technical mishaps. Ditching the melodic interludes heard on their first full-length LP, The End Is As Near As Your Teeth, they brought a stellar routing of loud metal sodomizing the crowd’s ears. I spent much of the festival meeting local acts and these cats were definitely in the top three best sounding bands I caught.
News was already spreading about the arm wrestling that was about to take place after my interview with SOC and bands were anxious to see what was going to transpire. No one wanted to act on anything, though, until Liturgy took the stage. And who could blame them, getting more loud-ass metal under your belt before an arm wrestling match was the only way to go.
Liturgy fell victim to the crappy wiring and was robbed out of an amazing intro. They were saved (barely) by bringing their sound as hard and massive as they could. Once they came off the stage, I made my way to the dingy, smoke-filled basement to conduct my interview.
Momentum was setting up on stage, as my SOC interview was starting, so I hurried through questions before more mayhem would ensue upstairs. The some-2000 pound collective of leather, denim, beards and flesh that is Wistaria were waiting for the interview to end as they stood watching downstairs, partly because their set was next and also because I was to arm wrestle SOC’s drummer, Raggi, after the interview. There was a biker bar-like crowd in the room and they were pretty convinced Raggi was going to take home the killer trophy I made for the band. That was until I took my jacket off and unleashed the awesome power of my 14 1/2 “ pythons (thanks Arms by Arnold).
By far the biggest guy in the band, Raggi was slightly intimidating but I knew in the back of my mind I had to win. My fiancé alone would kick the crap out of me if I came home beat by the Viking arm slayer. Raggi’s a bear. Three songs into their set earlier in the evening he ripped off his shirt and I realized, “This dude is way bigger than the pictures of him on the interweb.” That’s when I knew I had my work cut out for me.
The band’s bass player told me Raggi has done this quite a few times before and had even broken a couple of his opponent’s arms in the process. If this was a scare tactic it was almost working, I might have been touching cloth but more so for the fact that I had about eight or nine Viking beers under my belt. Game was on. Raggi and I measured out our distance by touching our hands against each other’s forearms and then grasped hands.
On the count of three we were pushing against each other. Our shoulders were shaking and though I felt a good amount of pressure against me, I had no problems dropping Raggi’s hand to the tabletop in seconds. That was too quick and I wanted a second round. So, we measured up again. This time Raggi started giving it a real go and I kicked it into overdrive. My bicep grew and the blue Oni mask tattoo on the inner part of my arm, that I lovingly call Ralph was stretched to capacity. I brought Raggi’s hand over the top and just before I slammed in on the table for a second time, gave it a cute little kiss followed by a loud, resonating boom. The contest was over, but since the band was kind enough to participate, they got the trophy and we parted ways.
The rest of the night was a complete blur. I went to Square and watched HaZaR spin some music, pounded a beer and then took off out the door. I was planning on going to Faktory, but the line was uber long so Andy and I took off on a pub-crawl. I remember ducking into a joint, pounding some pints of Viking and watching a sparkly black-haired lady dance to ‘80s butt rock before staggering to the hotel. Being a boozer is fun, so long as you know what you’re doing and the night ended most perfectly. Good night, Reykjavík. Unfortunately, I have to get on a plane and fly out tomorrow (tear).