Tag Archives: lucky records

My favorite 10 things to do in Reykjavik

I’ve put a top 10 list of places I frequent when in Iceland list together.   9 favorites, and 1 that I am eagerly waiting to try out.  The great thing is, you can do most of these things all year round.  These are places and things outside of the regularly mentioned attractions and off-venue gigs that you may have heard of.  It’s just my favorite spots to hit while I’m in town for Airwaves.

otwi

1. On tour with Ívar

On tour with Ívar is one of my favorite walking tours around the city.  You’ll go down partially hidden alleyways, drink local cocktails, eat local food and the tour ends with a beer.  As a member of FM Belfast, Ívar has been in the Icelandic music world for quite a long time and he has a lot of great stories of the old and new Reykjavik.  I would suggest booking sooner than later as he books up quickly, especially during Airwaves.  You can book at the link provided above.

Lucky

2. Lucky Records

Lucky records is a massive music hub.  Typically there are bands playing during off-venue before, during, and after the festival.  The shop is pretty massive so you can shop and listen to live music all at once without feeling crowded or drowned in sound.   A lot of the Icelandic bands playing Airwaves will have music available at most the music stores and I suggest you get it while you can as a lot of it isn’t available off the island, And if it is you’ll pay more for shipping than your record.

fischer7inch

3. Fischer

Tucked neatly behind the city center in an old Icelandic house is Fischer.  Ran by a very musical family and their friends, the house/store has a cozy old Icelandic feel that’s quite warm and welcoming.   Throughout the shop there are displays of olden time “remedies” for common ailments all coming from an old book they also have on display.  They sell bespoke items such as sustainable tooth brushes, soaps, shampoos, and perfumes.  They also sell a 7′ that is handmade with the store soundtrack which was created by Sin Fang, Jonsi, Kjartan Holm, and Alex Somers.  If you want one I would suggest getting there at the beginning of your trip as they are handcrafted and with the influx of festival goers chances are they will be sold out sooner than later.  One of my favorite things about Fischer, is the mighty guard dog Atlas.

12tonar

4. 12 Tónar

Another of my favorite record stores in Reykjavik.  Go in, get a bit of coffee and browse both levels of the shop looking for new and used music.  As with Lucky’s, the owners and employees are very nice and really knowledgeable about the Icelandic music scene.  I have found absolute gems for great prices downstairs in their vinyl bins.  They also may have bands playing during the festival so watch out for schedules.

whynotplotur

5. Why not? Plötur

This is fairly new to Iceland.  A new underground record label that will most likely have basement concerts at RS6013 later in the festival.  True underground and off the mainstream Reykjavik experience.  It’s a DIY label and I highly suggest you check and follow their Facebook page for updates and notices of when bands will be playing.  They have a great catalog of music already and if you dig what you hear you need to pick it up then, as it’s rather difficult to get otherwise.

smekkleysa

6. Smekkleysa Plötubúð

Smekkleysa is an old staple around Reykjavik.  Smekkleysa records, (Bad Taste records) was the baby of Björk and Co, and the record store carries a lot of classics and current releases.  Kiddi, the man behind the counter has been part of the music world as long as anyone and is quick to answer any questions you may have about music current and old.

messinn

7. Messinn

I typically grocery shop and live off cucumber and tomato sandwiches all throughout the festival, money is better spent on vodka I say.  That being said,  I always try to hit up Messinn at least once during the festival.  A few years ago I surveyed a good deal of my Icelandic friends and asked which restaurant in Reykjavik has the most true to form and best tasting Plokkfiskur (fish stew) in town.  It was unanimous that Messinn was the place, and they were right.  Served right in the skillet the food here is really good, and the atmosphere cozy, it’s perfect for the November weather.  I would suggest getting a reservation a day or two before attempting to go there as they always tend to be busy.

braudco

8. Brauð & co

I’m not a big cinnamon bun fan, but this place made me one.  They also carry quite the assortment of bread that you can get by the slice or full loaf.  I typically grab my bread here for my breakfast and lunch during the festival.  It can get busy, but it’s worth the wait.  One of the better Icelandic secret spots you’ll find in the city.

mandi

9. Mandi

It may seem weird, middle eastern food in Iceland, but Mandi is the saving grace of almost every late night in Iceland.  They’ll be open after the bands stop playing, and out of all the late night food spots this is the best in the city.  It will busy with locals most nights but it is well worth the wait.  Typically, I grab food to eat then and food for breakfast in the morning.  It’s a very social place so it’s easy to meet new folks and learn about unannounced gigs and after-parties around the city.

vegan

10. Veganæs

And finally, but not least, Veganæs.  This is a new place located in Gaukurinn, A bar and possible Airwaves venue located in downtown Reykjavik.  Veganæs is a new outfit ran by Linnae and Krummi.  Linnae has been a staple for vegan food in Iceland for a long time, and her partner Krummi is in the Icelandic bands Mínus  and Legend.  I haven’t had a chance to eat here as they just opened, but it is one of the first places I plan on hitting once getting to the island.  Other great vegetarian/vegan places in Iceland are Kaffi Vinyl, and Gló

Advertisements

8 Tips for Iceland Airwaves

It’s that time again, time for my favorite festival Iceland Airwaves.  This year they’ve brought back the original feel and are using more independent venues throughout the city.  It means more movement and walking, but also means you get to see a lot of bands in unique spots.  You can learn more about those venues at the Reykjavik Grapevine.

5 days of music spread all over the city can sound intimidating, but if you go in with a game plan and you’re prepared you’ll be amazed at how smooth things will go for you.

I highly suggest you follow these three pages on Social Media.  Iceland Airwaves page will give you the quickest updates and information on bands.  IMX is an awesome source for finding out the history of bands, and they also shoot out information on tours and new music to look for.  And the Reykjavik Grapevine is an English language newspaper, in an informal sometimes snarky manner they discuss the happenings around Iceland and you can gain more knowledge on things to do while you’re visiting.  They typically put out a special Iceland Airwaves edition, as well as run a blog during the festival dedicated to Airwaves.

Iceland Airwaves Iceland Music Reykjavik Grapevine
IA17 imxfacebook grapevinelogo

And with that, here are some pointers on prepping and enjoying the festival:

  • Follow the three social media sites above for quick access to changing info
  • Be relaxed, flexible, and social
  • Be prepared
  • Be a tourist, in and outside the city
  • Respect the land, yourself, the people, and your fellow festival folks
  • Support the artists, buy their music
  • Food, alcohol and favorite people & places
  • Have fun

Be Relaxed, Be Social

Combining the normal tourist activity with over 7500 festival folks makes Reykjavik a busy busy city.  Relaxation is key to enjoying yourself.  You may have to wait a little longer for drinks/coffee/food/entrance into a venue, so just relax and breath in the fresh air.  Be social, if you’re stuck in a line chances are you’re stuck with people of like mind, so don’t be afraid to ask your queue cohorts why they are there, what bands they’ve seen, who they are going to see and why.  There are quite a few unannounced gigs that will be going on around the city, and being social is the only way you’re going to find out about them.

22284473943_09eba8def2_k

dj. flugvél og geimskip surprising the audience by performing with Dr. Gunni at Airwaves 2015

There is a lot of music, a good deal you may have never heard of.  Listening to the Spotify link  and/or checking out the page I’ve created of Icelandic bands playing are both extremely easy ways to begin prepping for the festival, and most likely you’ll find bands you never knew you couldn’t live without hearing live.

The Airwaves crew have done an ace job of making it easy for you to plan ahead and navigate these different venues with an app which is available now.  Make sure you download it so you can start putting together a game plan.  You should always have a plan A and plan B, so if the venue you’re trying to see a gig at is full you can quickly move on to your second choice.  The app will save you a lot of time with maps, time schedules, alerts and reminders of upcoming gigs.  It really will keep you on schedule, or help you alter your schedule in seconds.

Be a tourist, in and out of the city

touring

Nobody needs to tell you, but Iceland is gorgeous, so make sure you take some time to enjoy it. whether it’s just walking around Reykjavik looking at all the murals and art, or taking daytrips, get out and experience Iceland, there are plenty of options.  Here are a few of my favorites:

IHR

I Heart RVK

I heart Reykjavik is a fantastic walking tour company that will take you around Reykjavik discussing it’s history and unique attributes.

They book up quickly, so I would suggest trying to reserve a spot now.  It’s especially nice during Airwaves as there will be more music in the streets than usual while you walk around learning about old famous hangouts, and the history of the capital city.

otwiOn tour with Ívar is a new walking tour I’m really hoping to make it to this year.  Ívar Pétur is in the legendary party band FM Belfast, and this tour is his way of sharing a local’s perspective.  You’ll see the not well known side of Reykjavik, eat some food, drink some drinks, and hang out with Ívar and friends.  Reviews that I’ve read make it seem more like a day out with your very knowledgeable friends.

icelandicpunk

The Icelandic Punk Museum opened last year during Iceland Airwaves with Johnny Rotten in attendance.  Located in an abandoned Women’s public toilet in the center of downtown, the history of punk music is written on the wall in both Iceland and English.  Once entering, you can stroll through the toilet stalls reading a chronological account of the advancement of punk in Iceland.  Written by Dr. Gunni of legendary bands Bless, S.H. Draumer, Unun, and author of Iceland’s most comprehensive English music history book, Blue eyed pop.  Across from the historical toilets are instruments, clothing and other interactive exhibits.  It’s well worth a visit

Also check with your hotels, or the tourist office located in the city center.   there are plenty of day trips to take you to see waterfalls, geysers, and the gorgeous landscapes of Iceland outside of the city.

Respect the island and it will respect you Built on multiple volcanoes with lava in its veins, The island may try to kill you if you give it the chance.  Just be aware of your surroundings, footing, and the weather.  Common sense goes a long way, and Icelanders fully believe folks should use said common sense.  Have a good time not an out of control painful time. There’s a lot to do and even the half day you spend recovering from the night before will result in you missing a lot.

Pay attention to warnings about weather and areas not to tread in.  Unlike the East coast where we cancel school over the mere hint of snow, the Icelanders rarely give out warnings unless they need to.

Lucky

Lucky Records

Support the artists, purchase their music while you’re there.  There is a lot of music you won’t find off the island, or if you do it’ll cost crazy shipping.  So purchase it while you’re visiting.  Iceland has some amazing record shops, Lucky Records, 12 Tónar, and Reykjavik Record shop are the ones I’m most familiar with.  All ran by folks who love music, and love talking about music, you’ll also find a lot of off-venue gigs will be at these places.

Food and favorite places.  There are a lot of solid places for quick bites or sit down meals.  And there is the Bónus grocery store in the event you want to grab your own stockpile of munchies.  I tend to go for the lighter side of things such as the Noodle Station or Núðluskálin.  Noodle Station is your quick simple three option noodle place, good for warming you up and filling yer gullet quickly and cheaply.

Núðluskálin gives you more options, including spice level.  “Noodles in a fen number 6” just so happens to be my favorite noodle dish in Iceland and required at least once when I’m visiting.  

Vegetarians and vegans also have quite a few places to check out.  Gló and Kaffi Vinyl are my two favorite places.

For a very quick simple fix, there is also the famous Pylsurs (hot dog).   the famous “Clinton” stand down by the Reykjavik art museum.  Cheap, and they are good. 

Bars are plentiful in the city, and the prices only slightly vary.  There will be bands or DJ’s playing in most of them.  During the week the bars close at 1 or 2am, but on the weekend the bars will be open until 4.   Find a bar with the atmosphere you dig and have at it.  Alcohol purchased at the liquor store is taxed pretty heavily.   I suggest picking up a bottle of wine or spirits at the duty free shop while you wait for your baggage, It will be considerably cheaper that way.

And finally, the most important factor, have fun.  Don’t get too wrapped up in details, maps, or must sees.  You are going to experience one of the most unique festivals in the world, and you’re going to do it with northern lights above your head.  If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to comment below, or send me a Facebook message at Ragnaarbastiaan. Follow me on Facebook for photos of the festival, as I’ll be up there snapping away.

Airwaves pre-game

HarpaThe calm before the storm.  I arrived a day early for Airwaves to try and enjoy this wonderful city before the masses arrived.  The town has been busy in preparation, and after a brief morning walk I made it to Harpa to pick up my wrist band.

As usual, the weather changes in an instant,  for most of the day though it was clear skies with a little wind.  It seems to be the coldest Airwaves I’ve been to yet, but it’s not terribly cold…yet.

queueThe crowd actually wasn’t bad, and the Airwaves crew really have their business sorted, so getting banded and getting out was quick and painless.  I knew the schedule would be slim for the day so I took another long walk, got a beer at KEX, then headed over to Lucky Records to hear some pre-Airwaves off-venue gigs.

Lucky

Lucky records new location is pretty slick, they still have a great catalog of vinyl, and now with more space it’s easy to move around, even with bands taking up the front of the store.

They were one of the few pre-gaming, so after browsing I stuck around to hear some live music

 

Cell 7

 

Cell 7 was setting up.  It’s hip-hop from the 90’s, great lyrics and samples with a few guests to help in backing.  Even though the crowd was smallish, she kept us all engaged and interacting with her, it was a good way to start things off.

 

Camp_KLater in the evening, Camp Keighley played.  A six piece band with a unique groove, and tons of energy.  They really get into their music, and the crowd followed right behind them.  Besides, who doesn’t love bright red ties?

It was obvious crowds were moving into Reykjavik as the audience had grown from the afternoon performances.

 

Drive byNext up, and my final gig of the night was Boogie Trouble.  These guys, and gals, come highly recommended from the Icelandic music community, and a lot of locals showed up to hear them play.  Great funk twist with  a lot of disco.  Their lead singer is an awesome show-woman, and of course, there were crazy dancers at the front of audience absolutely in love with the band.  They did a Britney Spears cover that put the original to shame.

I highly recommend you check out Boogie Trouble’s full show later this week as the off-venue pre-game event was tight, and left us primed for the rest of the night.  These guys definitely deserve the praise the locals give them.

That was all for the pre-game, today the festival truly begins and the music roster is chocked full.  Enjoy everyone, be smart, be courteous, and listen away.

If you hear an Icelandic band you’re unfamiliar with, you can always look them up on my page here for links to their music and websites.