All Tomorrow’s Parties is coming to Icelandic shores in July. ATP provide a different festival experience: think more customer experience, hand picked music and a keen eye on quality, rather than snogging teenagers, cheap lager and funky hats. It’s a formula that has seen ATP travel from its holiday park beginnings in the UK to bespoke festivals all over the world. What follows is a list of the top 10 things to look forward to at the Icelandic version.
10. Blue lagoon – yeah, ok, it’s going to be crowded, and is no longer cheap. But most of ATP’s festival goers may not have experienced bathing in this sky-blue warm bath. Pretend it’s your first time too.
9. Keflavík airbase – ATP is held on the former NATO airbase, complete with officers club, and other Cold War paraphernalia. ATP Iceland will offer a guided tour to the exhibition ‘Life on a NATO Base’ that focuses on the everyday lives of US soldiers and their families during their tour of duty at Naval Air Station Keflavik (NASKEF), Iceland.
8. Pascal Pinon / Samaris – these two bands, both showcasing the vocal talents of Jófríður Ákadóttir, are not to be missed. With Pascal Pinon expect acoustic, harmonised loveliness with twin sister Ásthildur, whilst the up and coming Samaris are more about electronica, albeit with added clarinet.
7. Reykjanes Peninsular – this corner of Iceland is seriously under visited. Usually seems from the windows of vehicles speeding to/from Keflavík airport, it had a whole lot more to offer, including lighthouses, bubbling mud pots, bird cliffs, ghosts and the breeding ground of the last Great Auk.
6. Cinema/book club – Icelanders love books and film, so this promises to be a treat. The films will be specially curated by bands playing at the festival. If it rains for three days solid – which it could – this will be a huge draw.
5. Sóley – oh, Sóley, how we have missed you. Sóley hasn’t been around for a while, on account of having her first child (Congratulations!), but is back for ATP. Her quirky, piano-driven songs will sound perfect in a hushed corner of the disused airbase, whilst the Arctic terns squawk outside.
4. Ólafur Arnalds – a late addition, and not part of the main festival, Ólafur will play on Wednesday in Hljómahöll in Keflavík as part of the ATP Iceland takeover week of events. The other event is a chance to see hairy old Neil Young at Laugardalshöll. No thanks, I’ll stick to BAFTA winning Neo-classicism, if that’s ok with you.
3. Beer – if you’ve not experienced Icelandic beer, you have a treat in store. Supposedly benefiting from some of the best water in the world, micro-brewed Icelandic beer has boomed in recent years, especially considering it was prohibited until 1989. Go for the Steðji, Einstök or Kaldi.
2. Headliners – whilst the irony of travelling to Iceland to see bands that live not far from my own house in the UK is not lost on me, the headliners are extraordinarily good at ATP this year. Iceland doesn’t need any musical additions, but the bands chosen complete the local talent neatly, and are far from the usual festival fare. I can’t wait to hear Interpol’s new material, Mogwai’s extraordinary soundscapes and hearing Portishead in the strange light of a night that will never set.
1. Iceland – the best thing about ATP Iceland is, yes, Iceland. ATP is a unique festival anyway, but add Iceland’s moss covered, lava field strewn landscape, near 24 hour light, and Icelanders’ ability to throw parties like no one else, this promises to be quite a weekend.
Originally published on Iceland Review online.