With very little sleep we woke up dark and early for our trip to the Golden Circle which houses many of Iceland’s natural wonders.
We climbed mountains, saw geysers, and took in the other side of Iceland that Reykjavík doesn’t show.
…And on the other side…
“Iceland has no army, because we don’t have any enemies,” Our tour guide began, “here the enemy is nature that we battle with.”
We got a first hand experience of this fact at a greenhouse that grows and harvests tomatoes on a daily basis. In order to maintain their garden they use more electricity than a small village to mimic the effects of sunlight, and the entire growing process is a regimented process of growing and replacing plants at just the right time. As for protecting the plants? A delicate eco-system of insects are used to eradicate pests and the balance must constantly be maintained. It makes one wonder why with the ease of gardening and farming in the states we still can’t seem to universally uphold the same standards of quality and avoidance of pesticides. Some do, but most chase profit at the expense of a simple and elegant solution to a less pervasive problem.
One of the stories I’ve been tracking down on my trip is the intersection of creativity in politics and on this trip I got to see the very beginning of Iceland’s government.
Here, where the tectonic plates meet, one of the few places in the world where they are visible above ground, the first gathering of the Althingi, Iceland’s parliament, would meet to bridge the gap of ideological and political discourse. At a place known as Lögberg, or Law Rock, politicians gathered to decide the future of Iceland in the crisp mountain air. As unconventional as that sounds, Law Rock is in many ways the perfect place to hold an assembly. The ridges and valleys of the terrain create a natural shield from wind and I found myself actually taking off my winter coat outdoors for the first time since the hot tub.
But upon returning to the hotel it was time to hit some shows.
A band I knew nothing about before checking out their show, Kiriyama Family were a nice surprise. What sounds like catchy, synth backed indie pop was elevated by the quality of the arrangements which make the music so much more. The song writing is exceptional and the performance was enhanced by the appearance of guest musicians, a female vocalist whose strong, beautiful voice harmonized well with the musical backing and a saxophone which blended fantastically with the synths.
These guys absolutely killed it. French Canadian three-piece, We Are Wolves, appeared onstage wearing stockings on their heads that obscured their faces from the crowd at restaurant/venue Iðnó. The stockings only made it a few songs before being ripped off and it’s not hard to understand why. The band’s energy is phenomenal and they quickly became too sweaty for costumes. So did the crowd which ate up every bit of the rhythmic, Post Punk Indie tunes the group dished out. Think the constant, danceable, pounding, rhythms of The Hives with a lot more keyboard and your half way there, but the live show is where these boys shine. Tight, energetic and frankly unforgettable, We Are Wolves were one of the best acts of the festival.