Strap on your snow gear and tie your scarf tight. Iceland is hauling some of its buzziest bands overseas so we can get a better look at what their music scene is all about.
But first: some clarification. If this seems random, think again. The fine folks at Taste of Iceland are returning to North America to bring their Icelandic culture event to major cities like Chicago, Toronto, and New York City. Each year, they show off the vibrant culture Iceland has to offer. Given Boston is so close to the country (A 5-hour direct flight? Yes please.), we’re a regular pit stop for Taste of Iceland. This year’s lineup, however, is a step above years past.
This Saturday, the annual Reykjavik Calling concert will bring electronic post-punk act Fufanu (whose live show leaves you feeling like you’ve been electrified, as will its new album Sports), melodic punk group Mammút (who won Album of the Year and Song of the Year at the 2014 Icelandic Music Awards), and local motown poppers the Dirty Dottys to the Middle East Downstairs. The team works in collaboration with WERS, WBUR, Icelandair, and more to arrange the event, so you know it’s got enough ties to the scene to properly represent both Iceland and Boston. Best of all, the concert is totally free.
“There are so many Icelandic bands doing amazing things that I wish Americans knew about,” says Mammút’s Alexandra Baldursdottir. “The rap scene is getting bigger every day, with feminist forces like Reykjavíkurdaetur in the frontline. Electronic trio Samaris made an epic album last year. Hatari is a new Icelandic band that we’re keeping our eyes on.”
For both Icelandic bands, traveling to Boston is a chance to better understand America while simultaneously debunking stereotypes about our city. “The only image of Boston I have is Alan Shore, Denny Crane, and Shirley Schmidt,” laughs Fufanu’s Kaktus Einarsson. “The shows Boston Legal were on TV when I was growing up, and that’s the closest I’ve been to Boston. I hope those characters exist when we arrive.”
“Everyone in Boston is at least a little Irish, or at least that’s what Icelanders think,” adds Baldursdottir. “It’s said that the Icelandic Vikings went to Iceland and stole all the beautiful women. Strangely, we don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, though. There should always be an excuse for partying. Maybe we should try it while there.”
Luckily for the bands and for attendees, the event doesn’t stop there. The Taste of Iceland weekend continues its exploration into the Nordic nation’s culture at the Merchant where Icelandic chef Siggi Helga from Grillið restaurant will fly to Boston to create a homecooked meal that showcases their rising food scene. On Sunday, a short film festival from Iceland called Stockfish will screen at Brattle Theater in Harvard Square. Literature events, artwork discussions, and more will also take place. This is an immersive experience. If we didn’t know better, we would say it’s an on-point experience of Iceland without the flight but, thanks to the recent blizzard, with the weather.
If the event leaves a good taste in your mouth, then open up your calendar and mark vacation time in the month of November. Both Fufanu and Mammút play Iceland Airwaves regularly. Chances are you can catch them at this year’s festival, snack on freshly prepared local food, and take in the sights. It’s a dream combination that will have you wondering why you don’t travel to Iceland on the regular.
Now that’s a góðan dag if we ever saw one. If you don’t know what that means, well, I guess you just have to go to the show and ask an Icelander to tell you. And if you do make it to Iceland come November, take Baldursdottir’s advice: “Don’t buy bottled water in Iceland. There’s no need for that, even if the ads say so.”
FUFANU, MAMMÚT, THE DIRTY DOTTYS. SAT 3.18. MIDDLE EAST DOWNSTAIRS, 472 MASS. AVE., CAMBRIDGE. 8PM/18+/FREE. CROSSROADSPRESENTS.COM