Yebo’s reportage from the Crunchy Frog show in Reykjavik
This was definitely one of the most fun weekends in my life. And I’ve had some pretty fun weekends lemmetellya. As bright observers of this very website will know, it all started when we got a showcase booked at the prestigious Airwaves festival in Reykjavik. The Icelandic airline, Icelandair then offered musiclovers from Denmark to go with us on our magical mystery tour to Iceland for a great rate. A good number of brave vikings took the offer and so it came to be that an aeroplane full of thirsty danes took off from Copenhagen Airport on Thursday 20th of October
THURSDAY: SHOW NIGHT
Junior Senior, PowerSolo, epo-555 and The Crunchy staff were all there in Reykjavik to let off some steam and deliver a great show – only our two sweet interns Karen and Michael stayed home to man the phones. Actually, two of our old interns decided to join the trip: Mikkel and Mads (of Sterling fame). And what a jolly old time we all had.
Jessica and I arrived the day before to make sure everything regarding the show was in order and to have meetings with our new distributor in Iceland: Smekkleysa. Great guys by the way. So on thursday, when the bands arrived directly from Keflavik Airport, the records were on display in the cities’ record shops and all the promo was set up nicely. After a few brief soundchecks everybody got some grub and the bands did some interviews. At the café where we ate, we saw the most outrageous and unlikely rap-outfit ever. Thugs on Parole was three skinny teen age Icelandic boys in tracksuits. They were rapping about “bitches” and “hoes” and “fucking them in the asshole until they loose control (on the dancefloor)”. It was hilarious. Either this is a great comedy act or the worst damned hip hop band ever. They certainly had a credibility problem, as their lyrics about cracksmoking left us wondering if they are even allowed to smoke cigarettes in their mom and dad’s house, where they surely still must live. A great warm up for the Crunchy shows. Wish I had a picture of them to show y’all.
The *real* warm up for the Crunchy shows at the venue, NASA were in fact 4 Icelandic artists. The last one – just before epo-555 – was the former lead singer of Gus Gus, Daniel Águst. His one man show was pretty weird, but what I’ve heard of his record sounds really good. We were too busy handing out flyers and Crunchy catalogues to really notice, anyway. People were lining up to see the Great Danes.
When it was time for epo-555 to enter the stage the place was absolutely packed with people. Apparently, it’s a 550 capacity venue, but there was 8-900 people in there and a huge line out in front of NASA. Inside we were happy to note that Mr. David Fricke from Rolling Stone magazine attended our shows and also the superstar superieure of Iceland: Björk. She is a friend of Daniel Águst, so she hung out backstage for a while which totally freaked out Joy from JrSr who is a huge Björk-fan.
Needless to say all 3 shows went really well. The audience embraced the danes like family.
Actually both epo-555 and PowerSolo had played the island before and rounded up a devoted group of fans, and Junior Senior had had a hit with Move Your Feet in Icleand *and* had a local beauty in the backing band. Thorunn has actually released a solo record in her home country and is somewhat of a celebrity of her own. This night she wore a dress made out if men’s ties. Cool kitten.
Mikkel from epo-555 was more active than ever on stage. Running around, shouting at the audience and doing everything to whip them up into a frenzy. And they loved every second of it. My personal musical highlight from this evening was actually epo’s new song “HyperSchlieb”. MAAAN, that track is going to be a hit on their next album. Great show.
After the highly successful epo-experience, PowerSolo took the stage. The railthin bruthaz were joined by stand-in drummer and stand-up guy, Tobias. Together they rocked the house for real. I don’t know what it is about the power of solo and the Icelandic spirit, but it seems that every time the band has played in Reykjavik, people just go nuts for them. And who can blame them? As stage manager, I had to cut the PowerSolo set a little short (sorry about that Kim), but the very short periods for change overs meant that the shows were fairly short. But – what the hay – better to leave the crowd begging for more more MORE.
Now it was up to Junior Senior to give them more, and much more they got. The JS live band has a good number of shows under their belt by now, and they truly groove like never before. Even though the curfew was 1 am Junior Senior was allowed to finish their 1 hour set.
David Fricke wrote in his Airwaves report in Rolling Stone: “In their Icelandic debut … Danish party boys Junior Senior had the same effect in the same room, showing off the peppermint-dance power of their new album, Hey Hey My My Yo Yo. It doesn’t matter where you’re from: You’re dead all over if you can’t smile and jerk to a song called “Hip Hop a Lula.”
What a great night! Couldn’t have gone better. We were all so proud. And happy. And drunk.
The next morning the reviewer in the large paper Morgunblaðið had the headline, “Crunchy saves the night” and proclaimed our shows to be the best of the evening!
… and the crowd seemed to agree…
After the shows it was off to the hotel for some early morning drinking in Jenni, Joy and Mads’ room.
FRIDAY: EBBE GETS MARRIED + CRAZY BBQ
Ouch! Hangover-time. I had been hi-jacked by Søren from Crunchy to be the designated driver for a tour of Reykjavik with Junior, Senior, Boogie TV and two competition winners of a trip to Airwaves with Junior Senior. Such a thing can be rather akward, but it was actually quite nice. We went to the Hallgrim’s Church and up in the tower to have a view of the city. DING DONG! DANG! Suddenly the bells started to toll – just next to us. GODDAMN that was loud. Especially when you are nursing a wee bit of a hangover. After this wake up call we proceeded to the most western part of Reykjanes and threw some rocks into the water. And then visited the Town Hall, where Jeppe did a not so impressing Richard Attenborough impression.
We finished the tour just in time for me to pick up Jessica and head for the “Sysselman” where Ebbe Frej Frej Frej was going to marry his girlfriend, Stine (soon to be Stine Frej Frej Frej). Their families had travelled with them to Iceland for the occasion. It was a nice transaction. The Sysselman was really a Sysselwoman and she did the honours in both Icelandic and a fairly good Danish. Afterwards we got some cake and champagne, which cured the last bit of hang over and made us all nice and thirsty again.
epo-555 of course spent the friday in the city and at Ebbe’s wedding, but PowerSolo and some of the Crunchy boys rented cars and drove out to see the Geysir and Gullfoss and other natural highlights. The more sporty guys rented bikes and Junior Senior strolled around the city and chilled out.
In the evening our great friend and trusty secret agent, Thorhallur invited all 30 of us to a CRAZY BBQ. Let me tell you about Thor. He is not only as handsome as a fuggin God, he is also the sweetest guy around. He and his wife Arndis simply moved out of their apartment, so that Cruchy could have 8 people sleeping there. Thor also helped set up the shows promo-wise and helped us get connected to Smekkleysa. And then – to top it off – he invited everybody from the label and the bands for a great BBQ dinner. Arndis’ parents farm sheep, so Thor and Arndis went to the farm to slaughter some sheep. Arndis even whispered sweet soothing things in the ear of the sheep before it was shot, so it had a relaxed and totally unexpected death!!. Note to the non-butchers out there: this makes the meat tender and nice, as there is no panic and tension involved in the slaughter.
The CRAZY BBQ session was a great way to hang out with everybody and drink a lot of the booze, we all had brought (because of the high high prices in Iceland). Thor’s friend Hjalmar made the best damned salmon dressing EVER (for the incredible smoked salmon hors d’oeuvre) and the lamb meat was tender and well marinated. A really cool dinner among good friends. After the food the drinkin’ took over. I learned of a little shot, when I was in Iceland about 8 years ago called Russian Cocaine. 1 shot of vodka. 1 slice of lemon. 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of ground coffee – make a sandwich of the lemon, coffee and sugar, pour down the vodka and snack the lemon and you’re all set for fun! All that “cocaine” sure did make an impact on the people. Bo and I tried to gas ourselves in the electrical oven, and after that Bo pretty much passed out. Fzat got the hiccups so bad that Rud had to pull down his pants to stop it. Standing there butt naked cured him for a little while. Nobody asked Rud to keep pulling the pants down the rest of the evening of course.
When we hit the street at about midnight, we were hit by the amazing sight of aurora borealis. Sadly I missed the full power of it and only saw a little bit of the afterburn. But – MAN – that’s a treat too.
So anyhoo: everybody left Thor’s place with a bottle of booze in their hand and headed for the venues. After this everything is a little dim. I just know that I didn’t get to see the shows I wanted to, but had a great time at NASA drinking with Kim, Søren Solkær (who was the official photographer), Rud, Jessi, Roffe, Mikkel and Mikkel, Camilla, Junior and some more people.
The #1 price as Boozer of the night goes to epo’s ex-manager Jesper Manja. Mikkel Falk saw him being dragged out of a bush by the police – unconscious. They tried to find his pulse, as it can be quite dangerous passing out at 5 C below zero. Mikkel and Jesper Lydmand (soundguy for epo) got Manja in a cab, and Jesper took him home. In the cab he hurled chunks all over the interior of the car and Jesper had to pay 10.000 Icelandic kroner for the cleanup.
#2 goes to Mads Nørgaard (soundguy for Junior Senior) who stayed another day for the CRAZY BBQ. This meant that he had to get up WAY early to catch the first flight to Heathrow, where he was going to – supposed to, that is – jump on the Mew tourbus and do a show in Oxford on saturday night. But – alas! – Mads in his drunken state set the alarm in his mobile phone and set the phone on silent mode. So he missed the Mew show and had the worst day ever on saturday
SATURDAY: HANGOVER IN THE BLUE LAGOON + STRANGE FOWL
On saturday the Airwaves festival had arranged a DJ-concert in the famous Blue Lagoon. A couple of us crawled out of bed and onto the bus. I went with Nalna, Mads Sterling, Thomas, Mikkel, Fzat and Jessi. On the way we saw Søren Solkær shooting pictures by the lagoonish landscapes of Mikkel and Camilla from epo-555 for his upcoming photobook “Beat City” (with a soundtrack – both out on Crunchy Soundtracks this month! don’t miss it).
The blue lagoon is such an amazing place. It is even more amazing, when you hang out in the blue water sipping beer and listening to an excellent organic DJ with 10 fingers. And then the sun came through the clouds. Oh – what a sweet way to get over last night’s madness. Søren joined us after his photo session and we all did the synchronized floater (you had to be there). On the bus back (well both ways really) the flasks were passed around.and the bad bad jokes got worse and worse.
A lot of the people from the bands left the island on saturday morning, so the last night the rest of us decided to all meet for dinner. We crammed 15 people into a small room at the excellent Vid Tjörninan fish restaurant. We had some special Icelandic black bird – which was really good and gamey. Then a couple of fish dishes. Great stuff for sure. The dinner was a strange and weird experience in a very good way. Everybody had been partying for days and were part hung over and half getting back in the saddle. Part of the time everybody fell totally silent and sometimes we were all rolling with laughter. Fzat “entertained” us all with a story about Melvis, Nalna fell asleep a couple of times, but the best moment was when Roffe was looking for his shoe under the table and the waitress thought he was giving Nalna a blow job. Priceless!
Saturday on the town proved to be a tough time, because of the extreme queues in front of some venues. We stood for more than 1 hour in front of NASA and then went to Hafnarhusid and watched The Zutons. Here we met Junior and Lars i Lommen. Junior was very drunk and lost his voice, so the rest of the evening he danced his emotions to communicate (at least that’s what I think he did). Lars and Junior ended up at the cool bar Sirkus and both forgot their coats (amazingly, taking the subzero temperature into account).
Got a 750 kronur döner on the way home. Yes! It is indeed a pricy country.
SUNDAY: JUUUST CHILLIN’
On sunday everybody else went home. Some got to try the Blue Lagoon on the way to Keflavik Airport, and Rud even prosposed to his girl Christina at the lagoon. She answered: “Will you stop that!” – and then added “Well, if you really mean it”. Well, I guess that’s a “yes”. Jessi and I hung out with Thor and Arndis. Cleaned the house a little and asked them out for a good dinner to thank them for all their help and hospitality. I recommend Apotek restaurant. A little more expensive than kebab, but also much much better.
MONDAY MORNING: SAVED BY GONZALEZ
We had a shuttle bus pick us up at 4.55 in the center of the city. Got up at 4.30 and got all our shit together and hauled it downtown. BUT: the motherfugga stood us up. So there we were: 5 in the am on a cold cold monday in Reykjavik and 50 km to Keflavik. We noticed a dude standing waiting nearby. It was Jose Gonzalez – the Swedish singer/songwriter. He had a pick up a little later together with the International Noise Conspiracy. They saved our sweet asses and got us to Keflavik in time for our flight home.
Looking back now a week later and watching the pictures, I have to admit that I am NOT done with Iceland, Reykjavik and Airwaves. Hope to go back many times. This was the BOMB!
Crunchy Frog thanks Icelandair, Airwaves, Smekkleysa and most of all Thorhallur Rafns Jonsson.