Friday, 18 December 2015

A Trip to ATP Iceland Part 2 - Rekjavik & ATP!

Arriving in Reykjavik in the late evening meant everything had that slight mid summer haze to it. A short battle with the sat nav and we arrived at our apartment for the week and began orientating our way into the city centre. Thankfully Mariam had been before and knew where to go. It was strange to be walking around in almost full day light despite it being after 10pm. After getting something to eat we explored a bit more before calling it a day and heading home. Our route took us right along the edge of the harbour which meant seeing stunning sunsets most evenings, except the sun didnt set it just got a little lower and continued across the horizon.

We really spent the first 3 days day tripping out into the countryside, exploring as many natural wonders as we could find, read more about that here. The rest of the week we found ourselves having a bit of time during the day as the main bands we wanted to see at ATP were all playing later on in the evening. I found myself wandering off with my headphones in and just getting lost in the cities side streets, scoping out graffiti and murals galore. Reykjaviks distinctive architecture and streets quickly became familiar and certain tags seemed to pop up all over the place with Ugly Brothers having a monopoly on the citys walls! Whenever I'm in a new place I feel like I could cover double the ground if I'd only packed my skateboard but alas it remained at home. And lo and behold I stumbled upon a massive group of skaters hanging out in the town square, waxed curbs and grind boxes galore! Next time I'm packing the board!

Reykjavik is a city thats easy going and has a unique charm from the rustic painted houses and stunning harbour views, it feels like life moves to a slightly different rythm compared to places like London and Glasgow. I'd guess this is down to the length and harshness of the seasons, whether its 24 hours of sunlight or months of darkness in the Winter. It was also cool to see how the landscape could feed into the bands I like whether the minimal techno beats of Kiasmos or the subtle textures of Bjorks Vespertine, one of my all time favourite records. One thing I noticed from our walks is the amount of cats in the city, almost every corner brought us face to face with a beautiful feline. 

Through the day we visited the John Grant cafe, also frequented by Sigur Ros and Bjork which had some cool comic art on display, the Mikkeller bar which had some of their distinctive art work on show too, the Reykjavik Art Museum, Lucky Records where I could have spent a fortune on vinyl and a load of other eateries but we didn't really sample any traditional Icelandic dishes, for the best I think. Our evenings were spent being ferried back towards the air port to an old army base to watch bands play inside an old air crafft hanger. The main acts were all playing inside with a few smaller gigs taking place in an auditorium across the way but we spent most of our time in the main area. The line up for ATP was pretty strong with Public Enemy, Iggy Pop and Belle & Sebastian all playing the first night. Iggy Pop really blew me away with his energy and on point vocals, really a true legend! The next night I caught a bit of God Speed You Black Emperor who sounded as moody as ever, accompanied by some dark 16mm reel projections, taking the whole VJ thing to a new level! 

The final day I decided to head out a little later as I needed some alone time, I dont know if it was the constant day light or just the tiredness of being on my feet all day but I need a little rest. Eventually I made my way to the bus station to head out and meet the team. But, the last bus out to the site had already left and they were only taking people back from the festival, no more lifts out! Somehow I managed to find the only bus driver in Iceland who doesn't speak English who begrudgingly gave me a lift out to the festival. I did have a few panicked moments where I thought he was going somewhere totally different. Eventually I got there only to find everyone else had left to head back into town. So I made my way to the hanger and waited for Kiasmos to hit the stage. The festival goers seemed to dwindle a little more each day and it felt like there were only a few hundred left by the time Kiasmos came on. But as I've discovered at these kinda gigs, if in doubt just dance! And it worked, soon enought the few hundred punters were moving and dancing. Highlights included the rumbling beats of Thrown and the upliffting euphoria of Lit. After dancing for the best part of an hour it was time to head home again. 

Walking home in the morning light gave me a bit of time to reflect on the weeks adventures. We managed to do a lot and see lots of cool places but its great to know there's a load more still to see and do, the perfect reason to go back and explore a little more. Iceland was incredible and so were the friends I got to experience it with. I have quite a few photos of the murals and graffiti so I think ill add a part 3 when I get a minute but check out some snaps from Reykjavik and ATP below.