Rokk í Hafnarfirði – Gamli Enski, Hafnarfjörður; August 9th, 2016
Being thoroughly surprised by music you didn’t really expect to like is the best part of trying out something new when it comes to concerts. Rokk í Hafnarfirdi was exactly like that. I’d mostly come to see my friend Ragnar play and was hoping to like at least some of the music. It was so much better than that because I loved everything about the bands I’d wanted to see, once again realizing that seeing a band live can give you a completely different impression from hearing them on CD. I had a great time.
Back in May, after his concert in Szczecin, Ragnar had told me about this small festival. At that time I was looking for something to do for the usual one week vacation around my birthday and decided then and there I’d spend it in Iceland and go see this. It was a bit over a week after my birthday, but close enough. At that point he thought he was going to play with Ragnar Zolberg, whose music I like and with Sign, whom I don’t really care for. Still could be fun seeing them I thought and booked the trip soon after.
When I arrived in Hafnarfjörður on festival day, I already knew Raggi was not going to play with Ragnar Zolberg, but that did not keep me from going. Luckily the pub that held the festival was close to a bus stop and easy to find. I arrived during soundcheck, about one hour before it started, settled down and watched Sign play. I didn’t sound bad at all. Raggi waved at me and dropped by for a chat as soon as the were done. He told me he’d have a cruise ship gig with Árstíðir the following day and would leave as soon as they were done. They were not on until ten p.m. though.
Icelandic Hip Hop artist Cell7 was up first. I wasn’t paying all that much attention to her and just enjoyed a drink in the sun while she played, but what I heard wasn’t bad at all. For the time being it provided good background music for my thoughts.
After her it was Ragnar Zolberg‘s turn. His band had one familiar member: Hálfdán on keyboards and bass. 🙂 I must admit that I don’t even own his latest album yet and have not listened to his older stuff enough to know it well, so I wondered if I’d recognize anything. Raggi stood with me to listen as well. He had told me the latest album needed some getting used to and I was just a little bit worried I might not like it. No need to worry though. I loved it from the start. The band had great energy, the songs all sounded good and I love the passion with which Ragnar sang. The only song I recognized was ‘My Symbol Sol’, but I loved everything else as well, tribal drums and all. I much enjoyed taking pictures as well. Their entire set left me in awe!
Jonas Sig was next. I already knew him from playing with Magnús Þór, but I’d never heard his other material before. I was just what I’d hoped it would be. Perfectly enjoyable, melodic tunes for a sunny afternoon. If I were inclined to dance that would have been the moment. There was a nice variety too. I liked it. 🙂
Meanwhile it had gotten colder so I sat out the next band, Dr. Spok, at the bar. I could still hear them and soon realized they were not exactly my cup of tea, so I was fine where I was, warming up for a while. As soon as they were done I stepped outside again and moved closer to the stage so I’d have a good view for Sign.
I smiled as I watched them walk on stage. I own only one of their CDs and it is not one I’ve listened to much. Chances were high Sign would not be for me, but after hearing their soundcheck and being surprised by Ragnar Zolberg earlier I wasn’t so sure about it any more. I was rather curious to hear their music and figured I could always just take pictures if it didn’t work for me. I need not have worried about it. They captured my attention from the start with their powerful music. 😀 I loved it, even found myself head-banging and enjoyed being surrounded by fans who sang along to every single word. Wow, I’d had no idea they were that well known. They obviously enjoyed being on stage and playing together and they were so good I could not stop smiling.
During the set they had two guests, Auður and Heiðar Örn Kristjánsson of Botnleðja, the latter joining them for a cover of a Botnleðja song. It was much fun watching them interact with each other and the audience. For me of course the guests were even less known than Sign, but the rest of the audience obviously recognized them. It is all part of the experience of seeing a band in their home country. As I researched later, they played songs from each of their albums and everything was equally well-received. I only own Hermd, their latest release, so I recognized just one of the songs. It didn’t matter, since they all rocked and I just got to hear lots of great music. Each song was amazing and everyone played and sang so well that I felt lucky to be a witness. I did not want the show to end and when it did I could still feel the energy run through me. I could not have wished for more. 😀
A little bit
Mínar eigin tilfinningar
Thank God for Silence
Ghostly we walk
When Demons win
Fyrir ofan himininn
Vindar og Breytingar
After the gig I chatted with Raggi for a while. He kept the setlist for me, knowing I always like having one when it is available. There wasn’t much time before I had a bus to catch, but at least I could let him know how much I had enjoyed the concert. A final hug was the perfect end to a great night.