Go to a music festival: DONE!

Sonar-R-14-blog

This has taken me ages to post about. But just wanted to say Sonar Festival in Reykjavik was amazing!

I’ve been to tons of music festivals, but really really love going to festivals in different cities or countries. It’s a whole different experience, I think, going to see music (which is so cross-cultural) abroad. The crowd can make up a huge part of the experience.

What is Sónar Reykjavik (from the Sonar website)
It’s intimate. The festival is going to portray how a prestige brand can redefine itself in smaller locations and venues. The new concert house, Harpa and the joy of music will be a stark contrast against the Icelandic winter and the arctic darkness outside. Sónar Reykjavik is also an experiment in how music can reach those who truly seek it by those performing it and seeing that it´s not always the largest stage and the biggest crowd that matters but also about the unique relationship that forms and the memories for all involved. Trying to follow in the footsteps of the pioneering Sónar Barcelona festival is hard but hosting a Sónar Reykjavik festival which strives to deliver the experience and artists line up Sónar Barcelona would be proud of is something we truly believe is possible.
Sónar Reykjavik will take place on five stages with a total capacity of 3500 guests. Beside the two main stages, a part of the concert halls underground parking will be changed in to a nightclub were local and international DJ´s will perform during the festival. A scenic part of the concert house will also be changed into a stage along with a seated hall with capacity of 199 guests.

sonar day1Sonar was ace! Highlights for me included Sykur, Jon Hopkins, Bonobo, Diplo / Major Lazer, FM Belfast, Hermigervill, as well as being at Harpa – the amazing concert hall in Reykjavik. And popping out between sets to see the Northern Lights on the last night, obviously. Seriously amazing.

Bands we saw:

  • Ryuchi Sakamoto & Taylor Dupree (wasn’t hugely impressed)
  • HE (looks like Jesus)
  • ELOQ (pretty much the most amazing thing ever):

  • Introbeats
  • Kiriyama Family
  • Hermigervill (also looks like Jesus.. but played a THEREMIN! Great tunes)
  • Dada:

  • Kolsch
  • Kiasmos
  • Bonobo – freaking amazing!
  • Jon Hopkins:

  • Major Lazer
  • Diplo – weird to see him again life. been almost 10yrs since I last saw him…
  • Kenton Slash Demon
  • James Holden (essentially this set)
  • Sykur:

  • Steve Sampling
  • Daphni
  • FM Belfast (gave an AMAZING show!! the light-up dress! check this true-fan’s vid):

Also, some much better photos and videos and things at the Sonar Reykjavik Facebook, or on youtube (here, here, here)

An amazing festival! Glad to tick another thing off the list for this year!
sonar day2I think going to music festivals as a way or reason to explore a city is the way forward for me. Also, I have never seen so much knitwear at a(n indoor) music festival EVER – like, actually a guy squeezing past us with beanies and MITTENS on during Major Lazer. Incredible.

I thought the line-ups were a bit tricky each day, and we often had ‘down time’ to explore some of the bands we’d never heard before (which turned out to be great as we discovered a fair number of cool Iceland bands in particular). The venue was stunning and never really much queuing for things like drinks or toilets – a dream for a crotchety old lady like me! Except there was one room of *experimental* music that we never even went into at all, even just to see; there was always a massive line outside between sets and then no coming in during the sets. A missed trick maybe! Still, really looking forward to more Sonars (perhaps I will do a Sonar-around-the-world tour!) and more Iceland.

Takk Iceland!
sonar day3

See the Northern Lights: DONE!

aurora4

We did it. We saw the Northern Lights! We took an amazing trip to Iceland in February – a place neither of us had any connection to but had always wanted to visit. It was amazing. My photos don’t do it justice; it has to be seen.

In the run up to our trip, I’d been hawk-eyed watching the Aurora Webcam which looks at the Imagine Peace Tower, so it was pretty mental to actual wander around the city, and walk to the place where the webcam is positioned! I was also constantly checking the aurora forecasts obviously: here, and here.

We had been hoping to see them on our planned Northern Lights boat tour, and spent the first three nights having an epic time at Sonar Festival. HOWEVER, on night two of Sonar, while we were taking a breather between bands, we noticed a bunch of people running along the harbor (right outside Harpa, the venue for the festival) and we both shouted ‘Northern Lights!’ and jumped up and ran after them. When we got outside, everyone was Oooh-ing and Aaah-ing and I tried to snap some pictures with my long-suffering point and shoot:

aurora1

It was really, really awe-inspiring though and photos don’t do it justice. It only lasted about 20 minutes or so in this instance, but was so vivid and magical, even with the lights from the harbor well in view. We were so lucky to see them here.

The next night we had a tough call as to whether we should go to night 3 of the festival or try to get our boat tour in early, but we went to the festival in the end. Still not sure if this was the best choice as on the boat tour the next night, they kept saying it was the absolute most amazing show the night before. But the boat tour was lots of fun, and the aurora came out for us early on, so we were not disappointed!:

aurora2

It was the most crystal clear night out, and really just lovely and relaxing to sit above deck with my best friend looking up at constellations (in our very warm neon one-piece outfits).

Aside from seeing the amazing Northern Lights, and going to 3-day Sonar music festival, our trip to Iceland was pretty awesome.

We ate lots:
– Cafe Loki Icelandic food (including yummy rye ice cream!)
– Kaffitar coffee & cakes at The Pearl
– Skyr (icelandic yogurt/cheese stuff in SO MANY FLAVORS, we ate this everyday)
– Ice cream! (at Valdis ice cream shop and a massive crepe sundae at Eldur & Is, where we met a Scottish girl server!)
Baejarins bestu – most famous hot dog stand ever
Loveballs! (I will definitely be making these..)
Vegamot restaurant on our last night.. our only proper restaurant meal I think!
– Chocolates! (I bought a selection of Icelandic chocolates and sampled THEM ALL. It seems they’re big into chocolate & black licorice combos).

Saw lots of neat things:
– The Pearl
Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach – closed actually for winter!
– Sun voyager sculpture
Golden Circle tour (Gulfoss, Geysirs, Þingvellir national park, with a green energy stop off at Hellisheiði geothermal energy plant. AMAZING!!)
– Pet Icelandic horses!
– Kolaportið Flea Market
– Swam at Laugardalslaug, the local geothermal pools & walked to the zoo but it was shut.
– Hveragerði & river hike
– And of course walking the length and breadth of Reykjavik to do all because it’s nice to be outside and wandering (when one spends all one’s working hours inside at a desk).

aurora3

If I could go back again, I’d go back in the spring, hire a car and drive around the ring road stopping off at geothermal hot springs along the way. I’ll also do a whale-watching tour, and perhaps if I’m fit enough, the 4-day walk through Laugarvegar(sp?). But for a 5-night trip, I’m pretty pleased with how much we squeezed in!

Essentially, I saw this and wanted to see it all in person:

And I did!