I have been collecting festival and concert experience throughout the world for many years. Many great memories are linked to the different festivals and I made lots of great experience and friends at the different locations. On this way it came that I am reporting now for many years from the Wacken Open Air, the biggest Heavy Metal festival of the world (since 2001) and wrote several articles about it – so I have a lot of experience with a festival that can turn a whole village once a year upside down.
As music is one of my biggest passions, it is not the only one to me. For many years now I have a really intimate relationship to Northern Europe, especially to Iceland. Not only musically, but also its people and the incredible nature are reasonable for my close relationship to Iceland. For 14 times now I have been traveling around in this beautiful country and every visit I feel more and more linked to it. 2014 I decided for the first time to visit the Eistnaflug festival in the east fjords of Iceland. Similar to the situation in Wacken, the festival is taking place at an extremely exposed position in a remote valley, right in the middle of the small town of Neskaupstaður with about 1500 inhabitants, which every year in July are almost doubled by the festival visitors.
From all over Iceland and also from many different countries around the world music enthusiasts travel to this remote town, which is only achievable by a small single-track tunnel, situated at 700 meters above sea level, to listen to a wide musical portfolio of rock and metal.
Already in 2014 I was impressed by the overall atmosphere. As soon as you pass the adventurous tunnel, that has no equal, you get an incredibly beautiful view around the magnificent mountain landscape that stretches to the seacoast. After some kilometers of driving you reach the city sign of Neskaupstaður. The festival has two campsites to offer, a family campsite and one for everyone who wants to celebrate into the night without end.
As in the last year we decided to choose the party campsite and pitched up our tents. After around 15 minutes of walking we reached the actual festival ground, which – due to the Icelandic weather conditions – consists inside a large sports hall.
As 2014 the festival took place in a nice little hotel, this year the festival operator were clever enough to change this location and moved the festival into a much larger hall. If I look back at this decision, it was the totally right one. Contrary to many German festivals the operator of Eistnaflug festival and his crew did a really fantastic job, to make it short, I have rarely seen such a well-organized and yet so relaxed festival. At this point let me say thank you so much for the really easy and quick handling of my wishes. For me, something typically Icelandic, one of many reasons why I feel so much connected to this country.
After we got the usual festival wristband we learned that this year a kind of garbage and toilet fee was charged, which gave us another ribbon. Fully understandable in my view.
After the first beer we met up with our Icelandic friends, Hallveig and Jón, who had travelled over from Reykjavík. Together we started the festival with a really brilliant band, with Kontinuum. Standing in the first row we really enjoyed our first band of the evening.
After having a pizza we reached the hall again, right in time to see Carcass. This UK band was one of the few foreign bands that were invited to play this exclusive festival this year. With their Grindcore and Death Metal mixture Carcass started heating up the hall which brought the first rows right into motion. The first people started to shake their hair through the air, while Carcass played its set, which mainly included classic songs.
After a few more beers it was time for the band of the evening. My favourite one and not only mine: Sólstafir. As soon, as Aðalbjörn and Co hit the stage the audience began to cheer and celebrate the band. There is really not much to write about Sólstafir. Everybody who was ever able to experience this brilliant band live will understand what I mean. Aðalbjörn has the unique gift to cast his audience right from the beginning under his spell. This charismatic frontman along with the incredibly atmospheric sound and the very great sound of the hall made the concert a true experience. When Sólstafir started to play their awesome song “Fjara” and the entire hall started singing along, the atmosphere was on its absolutely peak.
A perfect festival day was coming to an end and we crept into our cold sleeping bags. Late at night I dozed off, the songs of the party animals on the camp side in my ears.
When I woke up at 10 clock in the morning and felt the fresh, but dry air I turned once more around in my warm sleeping bag and enjoyed being able to sleep some more. After the tent was packed together – unfortunately this was our last day at the festival, because our flight home again came nearer and the route to Reykjavik was far – we met at 11 clock with Hallveig and Jón for a late breakfast and decided to drive to the neighbouring town of Eskifjörður and go out for a cup of coffee and to visit the local sailor museum.
Just in time for “Lights On The Highway” we returned to the festival hall. The Icelanders who describe their music with the words “A Little Bit Of Everything” rocked the stage and were the perfect introduction for the festival today.
“The Vintage Caravan” entered as the next band the festival stage and provided with their outfits and stylings some nice variety. Pressed into tight ladies clothes with nylon panty hoses they jumped around like rubber balls on the stage and rocked it. Barely a minute they treated themselves to a standstill, so it came up that the time of their performance flew by.
Vallenfyre from the UK offered after a little contrast program. The band of the former bassist of Paradise Lost attended with their old school Death Metal for duly movement in the audience.
Since this did not really suite my taste of music, we took the opportunity for a visit at the merchandise stand and the ingenious hamburger car. With a beer and a cup of coffee, the time passed very quickly and it was time for Dimma.
The local heroes from Iceland had won their audience already with entering the stage. Singer Stefán impressed with his clear and beautiful voice, accompanied by Dimma’s own sound. Not only vocally, also from the stage show Dimma convinced absolutely, especially guitarist Ingo surprised me again and again with his acrobatic shows. As a hint for all visitors of Reykjavík I would like to mention that bass player Silli owns a really great bar in the centre of Reykjavík called “Skúli Craft Bar“, which I was able to test extensively thanks to Jón.
Inquisition from the United States attended with corpse paint and icy Black Metal sound a completely different atmosphere. The two member’s band played their set without major ups and downs, typical Black Metal with only a few special features.
Enslaved was next to Skálmöld the band of the day for me. Since a long time I love the music and the albums of the Norwegian metal band of the first hour. Enslaved have to offer one special thing beside its brilliant music: charisma. Especially singer Ivar and guitarist Grutle ensure that the listener does not get bored a single minute. Enslaved’s musical mixture of clean vocals, scolding Black Metal vocals, melodic passages and hard hitting riffs, paired with lyrics that tell primarily from the Norse mythology pulled me long ago under its spell and they did it again this time. Time unfortunately passed by very quickly; especially as my two favorite songs “Ethica Odini” and “Allfaðr-Odinn” were played.
With the last band of the evening the end of this year’s Eistnaflug festival and the departure for our trip back to Reykjavík came closer for us.
But still the anticipation for Skálmöld was huge. Above all, I was happy about seeing singer Björgvin again, as a loose friendship connects me with him, which lasts already for several years and in which we are meeting once a year on festivals around the world. So it really pleased me, when Björgvin saw me and greeted me in the photo pit.
Usually Skálmöld start their show at full power and so they did on the Eistnaflug 2015 festival. The very numerous audience gave props to Skálmöld with loud choruses, flying hair and a lot of action. You could really see and feel how much fun Skálmöld had on stage and exactly this mood spread around in the hall like a wildfire.
All too soon the show ended and after extensive goodbye we went on the road again to manage all the way to Reykjavik, while we were really sad that we had to leave the festival one day earlier.
For all those of you which I was able to infect with my enthusiasm for this unusual festival, here are some more details:
We have the festival always associated with a tour around the island or into the Icelandic highlands. On this way you can experience the natural scenery and the hospitality of Icelanders properly and enjoy both of them. The contrast between nature and festival, which is actually not a contrast, but much more two closely linked things, makes this combination so interesting.
The way over to Neskaupstaður from Reykjavík is – when you drive over the north route – around 715 kilometres. To arrive safe it will be the best to split this almost 9 hour drive into at least two stages. The Icelandic nature is so beautiful and varied that you should even take some more time for this drive.
The three days of the festival costs the equivalent of about 150 euros. For a four-day festival this is a really good price.
Since alcohol in Iceland is very expensive, you should plan this into your budget.
A good car rental, a good tent and above all a good sleeping bag will make your stay a lot more comfortable.
For those who need more information here are the most important links:
The festival pages:
And last but not least feel free to contact me at:
All in all I really know one thing: Eistnaflug we will see us again next year!