Iceland Airwaves Day Two: Cell7, Eldar, Caterpillarmen, and Muck (10/31)

So there were no tricks this Halloween, but I got plenty of treats. I started my morning with coffee and a chat with Runar Magnusson, whom I saw play last night. We talked about sound and how to be both friendly and unfriendly at the same time. Hearing his music is a one-of-a-kind experience and talking with him was truly wonderful. His mind is unique and great to pick.

I ran from one intellectually stimulating conversation to another across town at the Prison and Probation Administration, where I met up with Erlendur Sigurður Baldursson, the assistant director. He explained how the prisons in Iceland are more focused on rehabilitation instead of pure, dehumanizing punishment like we see in the United States. Coming from a country with such a high incarceration rate and such long sentences in harsh conditions, it was refreshing to hear, and even nicer to see when I toured Hegningarhúsið, Iceland’s oldest operating prison, located in the center of Reykjavík.

I met with Guðmundur Gíslason, the Governer of three prisons in Iceland, and then took a tour of the prison.  Hegningarhúsið doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of a typical Icelandic prison–it’s old, and violating many codes. And soon it will be replaced by a new prison. But as it stands right now, it gives each inmate their own room with a TV, access to a small library, work-out room, recreation room, yard with a small garden and soon a computer lab. I was informed that the prison used to allow prisoners to keep laptops, but they were recently banned since prisoners were finding ways to get on the internet and make music videos. Yeah. That’s music videos, plural.

I finished my day of interviewing at the University of Iceland, where I spoke with Professor Eiríkur Rögnvaldsson to talk about Icelandic language purism. Technology is it’s  biggest threat of all

And just like that, the sun went down, and I ran off to see some bands.

Cell7 (20:00 @ Gamli Gaukurinn) is by far the best female rapper I have seen. Her show was energetic and her rhymes were fresh over some dope beats. There was plenty of crowd dancing and singing along, making it one of my favorite shows of the night.

Next up was Eldar (20:50 @ Iðnó), who stole my heart.

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Their songs were sweet and honest. Talented musicians. Beautiful voices. The kind of band you want to sing you to sleep every night, and sing you awake every morning.

Caterpillarmen (21:40 @ Amsterdam) got funky with it. Good, melodic funk rock. They put on an excellent show, and two members even switched instruments.

And last, but finally not least, the DIY band that made it out of the basement venue and into a very expensive show space, Muck (22:30 @ Harpa Norðurljós). These guys really nailed it. Good old fashioned loud, thrashy metal with plenty of head banging and speaker feedback thrown in between. If only there were people dancing in the pit, this show would have had it all.

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