Iceland Airwaves Day One Skelker Í Bringu (10/30)

As soon as we tumbled out of the stuffy airplane, all sweaty bundles of coats and hats, we thought we were ready for Iceland; especially after our 8-hour layover in Newark where we waited in our winter gear. We were hot and ready to start experiencing Iceland first hand.
As soon as we exited the terminal the infamous Icelandic wind welcomed us; and made it clear we weren’t quite prepared. In fact, that very realization must go through the heads of a lot of tourists because it is actually a marketing slogan in Iceland, one clothing store we passed had a sign that asked, “Don’t have everything you need for Iceland?”
The wind is so strong this time of year, that it threatened to push many of us over, and yet, we were told the wind we experienced was only a pale comparison to what they can do at full blast. In fact, they have blown so hard  in the past that people have been lifted into the ocean. As the bravest of us hunched our shoulders against the cold and pulled at the last drags of overdue cigarettes; the rest of us scurried, shrieking to our bus where we began immediately to feel hot again. This cycle of extremes of hot and cold repeated itself throughout our first day, and echoes a common Icelandic experience. Outside the weather whipped bare skin and even bit through multiple layers but as soon as you entered a building those layers started to backfire. Every journey out into the cold of Reykjavík is a tiring ritual of dressing up and down that would make a fashion model cry foul.
After a short tour of the city we headed out to experience a traditional Icelandic pastime, which also has to do with radical changes in temperature: swimming. A favorite of locals, we headed to Reykjavík’s oldest indoor pool. It was here that we encountered our most intense test of temperate fortitude. Besides the pool there were also hot tubs, heated geo-thermically. However, in order to reach them we had to walk about 20 feet, dripping wet, outside, through the freezing cold. So cold it was painful doesn’t do the feeling justice, but once submerged, steam rising past our exposed faces, things were much nicer. It was so hot that after a few minutes you could walk around, wet, in the cold and not feel it.
Skelker Í Bringu
As warm as the hot tubs were, when I walked into Amsterdam, a small venue-bar that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Chicago corner, to see Skelker Í Bringu, a noise-rock/punk outfit, I really felt the heat. Packed tight in the middle of an excited crowd, with the worbling wail of lead singer Steinunn Eldflaug Harðardóttir reverberating around the room, this was the most intense experience of the trip so far.
As I arrived a dirty distorted wormhole of sound punctuated by high-pitched hollers and shouts quickly expanded past the venue and out into the street. Fast-paced guitars were reduced to a wave of sound as the bands promised “psychadelic freakouts” began. Harðardóttir wore a feathered mask, and was the star of the show. Once released, the energy onstage could not be contained and as the show went on more and more people crammed into the packed venue to hear what the noise was all about. It was a quite a way to kick off a festival full of exiting and unique acts.

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