A Spanish Music Festival in an Icelandic Pyramid

Sónar festival is originally from Barcelona, the city where I was born. I used to go there to listen to good music: Björk, Air, and Massive Attack were on the charts. As a writer, I also went to see another show: the freaky audience that showed up just for the occasion. In those days, people exhibited their most eccentric and bizarre haircuts, clothes, and tattoos, to the extent that some seemed to be disguised. Of course, they were the focus of coolhunters, who came from all over the world. But life twists around unexpectedly, and just as I had never pictured myself biking in the dark mornings in Reykjavík, heading to the University, neither had I dreamt that the same festival would be placed in this city. Sónar Reykjavík is a catwalk as well. I immediately realized that jeans ripped at the knees were not fashionable anymore. Today’s trends were discolored jeans from the knees to the bottom, and bright little stones in girls’ makeup.

Futuristic pyramid - an ideal concert hall

That Friday I was so excited that I got too early to the concerts. There were a few people there and no one dared to throw any cans on the floor. Nevertheless, I rapidly felt that Harpa was the most suitable place to host an electronic music festival; its futuristic design and central location reminded me of the MACBA, the building where the first festival was held in Barcelona. In addition, Harpa has something special. It is like going into a pyramid full of doors, stairs, and corridors, were you can easily get lost, even just trying to find the toilet, especially if you have had a few beers.

Drinking beer with the mayor

When I came into to the concert hall, people were already dancing and I was so close to the stage that I thought to myself: Gosh, I’m almost touching the artist, something that would be absurd in Barcelona. Mugison, with his Moses beard, wore a lumberjack shirt and sang alone in front of a synthesizer. The audience looked at him like he was the most vivid spirit of Iceland; the only thing he lacked was a lopapeysa pullover. I was astonished again when I saw the mayor of Reykjavík standing beside me. He was very relaxed, without any bodyguards, and drinking a beer. I almost asked him for a selfie, but I had not had enough beer for that. Both of us stayed there until the last encore. Mugison made a great impression on me.

Sugarcubes or Kaktus?

Jordi Pujolá

Jordi Pujolá

At the concert of Fufanu, which reminded me of Depeche Mode, I bumped into Einar Örn Benediktsson (Sugarcubes). My brother in law informed me that he was the father of the singer jumping on the stage, named Kaktus. Gorgeous! I also went to the concert of Sophie, from the Steve Aoki’s generation, and he turned out to be male. I felt good vibes but I admit that I was not able to decode his music during the fifteen minutes I stayed there surrounded by loads of teenagers dancing like crazy. All the bands were awesome; even so, in my opinion the performance of Prins Póló was too late, at 11 pm. Their lyrics were as sensitive and sarcastic as usual, but the rhythm was not fast enough to incite people to dance. Sorry.

The double mistake of Paul Kaulbrenner

But the main reason I was attending the festival was to see Paul Kaulbrenner. He started up like a rocket and people danced like in the movie Berlin Calling. It was the highlight of the night. However, suddenly the music stopped. I don’t know what happened. I just know that it took a long time for him to refloat the ship and he actually never got on track again. Maybe we would have forgiven him if he had worn the Icelandic shirt, because all fans know that he always wears the local national team T-shirts at live concerts. But this time he wore the German one. Big mistake my friend.

Some things never change

Before Paul was done, I went to check out Nina Kraviz’s music in the cellar of Sónar Lab. It was so dark in the room that I could hardly see the head of the guy that was dancing in front of me. DJ Thor was on the stage as well, hidden behind a bottle of Reyka, and I wanted to share some shoots with him. At this time, the cans rolled down on the floor and the beer got warm. Eventually, I ordered a taxi. But as I was leaving, Icelandic as I might be, I missed a pylsa station. I thought that was disappointing because I like pylsa and had become sick of the only option available at the bar, chicken smørrebrød. On the street, I observed the illuminated facade of Harpa and felt proud of living in Reykjavík, the coolest city in the world. I was so happy that I tried to talk in Icelandic to the taxi driver, but he was from Belarus and started to laugh. I thought it was a good omen and I laughed too. Getting home I took off my snake boots and saw that the soles were full of chewing gum. Some things never change, whether you live in Reykjavík or Barcelona.

/