Thanks Goodness for that then. When a festival calls itself ‘I Never Went South’ the implications of northern travel are patently obvious.
Nestling under a blanket of near permanent snow amongst the northern Fjords of Iceland, This event is now in its fifth low-key year and manifests itself as a two day, free music showcase of indigenous talent curated by one of the God-Fathers of the industry – Mugison. And his Dad.
The Bigger Picture:
Akin to the Fence Collective’s ‘Home Game’ in Fife, Scotland where a tiny village is commandeered in the name of folk music – I Never Went South is a local delight deliberately hosted both geographically and ideologically from the exhausted and beaten track of corporate sponsored brand wank fests which appear to be popping up like generic ring fenced mushrooms in increasing propensity.
Having been to South by South West the week before (an American breaking band showcase in Austin) Clash’s latest foray was very much North by North North as trains to Glasgow gave way to Planes to Reykjavik and from there a tiny plane across the volcanic sculptured wilderness to the northern most tip of this bizarre country. Landing in an isolated town just shy of the Arctic Circle called – Ísafjörður – home to an ice hardened 4,000 people it was clear that any proceedings would be an intimate and privileged insight into one of the most musical nations on earth.
The rules are simple. Mugison picks the best variety of Icelandic bands with around 35 playing over two evenings in the town’s harbour. No band can play two years in a row, there are no rehearsals nor sound check – and its fucking freezing.
What follows now is an account of a weekend of Icelandic musical adventuring with legends playing alongside teenagers and new bands borne magically through impromptu stage sharing and resultant hugs. The sounds were as varied as the landscape with traditional Indie colliding into Ghetto-Tech Tap, ironic Trance Pop, Faroese Fok, Ska, Blues and balls out Rock and Roll.
Few words can convey the warmth, individuality and distinction which is generated when partying under the Northern Lights near the Arctic Circle amongst a close community of music obsessed Viking descendants – but let’s have a little go. . .