1MM: Iceland Airwaves Music Festival, 10.17.08, F/ Ólafur Arnalds, Simian Mobile Disco, GusGus (Yes, Again) and the Wildest Crowds We’ve Seen All Year

Ólafur Arnalds goes looking for the leprechaun at the end of Iceland’s famous ‘Golden Waterfall’

Text/Photos by Andrew Parks

If you’re from a major city and have never been to Reyjkavík before, finding yourself lost at 1 a.m. on a weeknight is both disorienting and a bit scary. Namely because the place is so quiet, with just one 24-hour store shilling 7-Eleven-esque fare and a ridiculous amount of lubricant. (Seriously; the 10-11 spot–way to be original with the name, guys–in the middle of the downtown area has a healthy assortment right by the register instead of, say, candy or packs of gum.)

As we found out on Friday, the reason for the unsettling silence is Iceland’s work-hard-and-party-harder policies, which reminds self-titled of the slories we’ve heard about Tokyo, a place that also appears reserved at the office and home … until Friday hits. While all Icelandic bars and clubs must be closed by 1 a.m. during the week, they’re open until 6 on the weekend. Which basically means a balls-to-the-wall vibe of broken glass, everywhere, people pissing in the streets like they just don’t care. And mating. There’s lots of mating.

To give you an idea of the contrast between Icelandic natives at night and the peaceful facade they project during the day, our summary of Friday shots is heavy on the crowd photos, with a nice counterpoint of Ólafur Arnalds taking us out into the locales you’d hit while on the country’s popular “Golden Circle” tour.

The Strokkur geysers

The volcano crater that is Kerið

James Anthony Shaw of Simian Mobile Disco

Stephan Stephensen and Birgir Þórarinsson of GusGus, doing an ‘instrumental set’

And the crowd goes wild …