The name of the festival isn’t easy for non-Icelandic speakers – Eistnaflug. The name of the little town (which doubles its population of 1500 when the event takes place) on an isolated fjord where the festival takes place is even harder – Neskaupstaður. But apart from linguistics, that’s really where all the stress ends with this festival. If you do decide to undertake this adventure, you’ll be rewarded with one of the coolest, most chilled-out atmospheres in any festival, ever. With 24 hour daylight, a welcoming party of smiling, peacefully drunk Icelandic metalheads and all the best talent the rich local scene has to offer, plus with a couple of big international bands to spice things up, the three days will just zoom by and you’ll never want to leave.
Eistnaflug Crowds (Pic: Stebba Ósk)
Terrorizer has been to Eistnaflug before (here’s what went down last year), but don’t just take our word for it – take it from someone who’s been to every edition of the festival so far, and who’ll probably be at every single future one too, Sólstafir’s drummer, Guðmundur Óli Pálmason. “Eistnaflug is like a big family meeting for us and for the whole Icelandic metal/rock scene. It’s our favorite festival in the world. Ever!” he says enthusiastically, knowing the time is nigh for yet another visit to Neskaupstaður. “The location and the attitude are what makes it so special. It’s in a small, isolated town, which is in a long and narrow fjord with steep mountains on each side, and the sun never sets and everyone gets along perfectly.” Gummi also has created his own personal tradition of jumping off the pier down by the main venue, so watch out for that. It will happen, and it’s a must-see attraction.
Sólstafir (Pic: Stebba Ósk)
As for the bands this year, apart from the country’s biggest metal stars Sólstafir themselves, you also get rising death metal titans Angist, this year’s Icelandic Wacken Metal Battle winners Ophidian I, amazing stoners The Vintage Caravan, furious rockers Dimma and local folk phenomenon Skálmöld, besides the foreign attractions Hamferð, The Psyke Project and, get this, Red Fang. That’s right, Portland’s superstars will be rocking out like there’s no tomorrow at Eistnaflug and, well, for them it’ll probably really feel like there isn’t. “This is the last show of our tour, and we plan to go out with a bang!” says bassist vocalist Aaron Beam. “We will have played 14 shows in 13 days leading up to our trip to Iceland, so first off I am really looking forward having a full day off to do whatever I choose (aka the Blue Pools). Also I can’t wait to see Brain Police again. We became fast friends at the 2012 Desertfest in Berlin – those guys rule!”
Gummi also mentions Potentiam, Momentum, Kontinuum, Saktmóðigur, AMFJ, Legend and Singapore Sling as other names to keep an eye and an ear out for, but overall it’s the whole experience that’s really the star of this unique festival. Oh, and don’t just stick to the main venue, either. Walk a few minutes down the road and you’ll come to an abandoned factory… where you will be dared to Enter the Mayhemisphere! “The off-venue, Enter the Mayhemisphere, is totally worth checking out,” Gummi says. “The atmosphere is totally different from the main venue, with young underground artists (including myself) showing their art and more underground bands playing in a rough, cold, smoke filled environment. We played a special show there last year and it was one of our best gigs. We’re planning to do that again this year.”
Skálmöld (Pic: Stebba Ósk)
You don’t need any convincing if you’re Icelandic, because you know better and you’re already going, but if not, go on with it. Get on a plane to Reykjavik, there’s a few low-cost flights there that won’t break your bank, and then just catch an even cheaper local flight to Neskaupstaður or ask for a ride on the festival’s Facebook page. It’s that simple. The most chilled-out crazy adventure you’ll ever have.
Words: José Carlos Santos