Flatbush zombies – The plan was to start off Thursday night with one of the early, quiet concerts, just to ease ourselves into the four-day festival. After a late start, that plan quickly fell apart and the first band we saw were the Flatbush zombies at the Valhalla stage, loudly proclaiming that they wanted to see mosh pits, fights, and at least three broken cameras after their show. It wasn’t the quiet start we were hoping for but the show, along with our first beers of the night, had us getting into the mood in no time!
Gísli Pálmi – Next up was Gísli Pálmi, Iceland’s very own gangster rapper, starting his show unexpectedly politically by endorsing presidential candidate Andri Snær Magnason and calling for a youth revolution. Like so many pleasures, Gísli Pálmi started out as a guilty one, gradually becoming a guilt-free pleasure for me, but one I’m sure my mother will never understand. I’m pretty sure Gísli would approve. I remember the exact moment I figured out that Gísli Pálmi’s act wasn’t a joke any more, walking into hipster club Húrra on a winter night where a shirtless, sunglass-wearing Gísli had the crowd eating out of his hand (figuratively speaking). The same was happening at solstice.
Sister Sledge – on to Sister Sledge, the secret headliner. I was moderately excited to see them since I did, in fact, have all my sisters with me, two of them to be exact (our brother was sadly absent L). I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy the rest of the show, since I couldn’t really think of any other Sister Sledge songs I knew and was unsure of how sprightly a disco band from the seventies would be onstage. Needless to say they proved me wrong. First of all, when they walked on stage, they looked about the same age as me and my sisters (23, 26 and 29), and immediately launched the most danceable disco show you could imagine. With gloriously in-sync dance moves themselves, bringing dancing audience members on stage for “he’s the greatest dancer”, actually getting most of the audience to do some synchronised dancing like this was a 90’s teen movie prom or something, with the show culminating in a rousing rendition of “We are family”, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Gus Gus – Gus Gus was a last minute replacement on the schedule for st. Germain, and while I had been curious to see some French house-jazz, Gus Gus was a solid replacement. Their brand of technopop has been keeping Icelanders dancing since the 90’s, with some team changes, singer Högni of Hjaltalín fame being the newest addition, and of course, their show last night was no exception.
There are many things I associate with Iceland, think volcano’s, gletsjers and – well – ice, but summer festivals wouldn’t necessarily be one of them. However, yesterday I found myself standing in line for the first day of Secret Solstice; an Icelandic festival celebrating the midnight sun. With midnight sun is literally meant that the sun doesn’t set; an experience I’m not particularly acquainted with as a Dutchie (apart from the moments going into a bar early and not coming out until early the following day).
I expected that no darkness would have an affect on the general atmosphere, as I’m used to people going full out mostly once the sun’s gone, when deep beats and liquor fill the dark night like clouds on a rainy day.
As Iceland also experiences moments of lengthy darkness in the winter, this eternal daylight actually seems to joy most of them. The sun might not set, but deep beats and liquor still fill the ‘night’; beer still warms the bodies and tunes still spark frantic dancing.
While wandering around the festival fields and shifting between stages you’ll experience a variety of local and international artists, meet Icelanders who absolutely don’t shy away from conversing in English (hooray for us foreigners) and you’ll have to memorize a bunch of fairly difficult names (pretty sure I’ll get the hang of it eventually). There might not be impressive laser shows and flickering lights nearly hurting your retina – but in all other ways the vibe’s no different from any other summer festival; a grand variety of people enjoying the music while being in their friends’ company.
Secret Solstice is celebrating the midnight sun, Icelanders are celebrating the midnight sun, and me? Well, I don’t mind at all celebrating it with them.
Finally this time of the year has arrived. The bright summer nights with various events and festivals happening. Thursday night was the beginning of the Secret Solstice Music Festival. I was working late so I didn’t manage to go there as early as I wanted. I hurried home to change and have dinner ( actually no need, at the festival there are plenty of food carts). As I live close to the venue, I could hear the concerts from my house, only to increase my excitement for the evening.
When arriving, I could see the streams of people coming from and to the venue, along with people coming from the gym next to it. For a moment I considered if I should go to the gym instead, but luckily I didn‘t.
I managed to get in in time for Sister Sledge, the secret headliner singing the famous song „We are family“, and the crowd went crazy. Everyone seemed filled with happiness. The next stop was at the candy floss machine and the fall tower to meet friends. So as you can see it’s not all about the music.
I had been looking forward to St Germain, a french jazz-house musician but for some reason they were cancelled. We didn’t have to despair, because instead of them, the Icelandic electronic band Gus Gus came on stage. They’re one of my favourite Icelandic bands. Högni and Daníel Ágúst are great artists and they really know how to make a performance.
Although the first evening was short for me, it was a great start of the weekend, with more to come. Gus Gus put the right mood for the coming days, and every single person seemed to be enjoying. The sun was not shining, but hey, who cares? All you need is music, good people around you and perhaps a little bit of candy floss.
One tip if you‘re going to the festival: Get the Secret Solstice 2016 app! You can choose which bands you want to see and make a schedule for yourself, see a map of the venue and more.
Until next time!