This will be without a doubt the biggest metal fest ever in Iceland,” says Stefán Magnússon, founder of Eistnaflug. From July 8-11, more than 40 bands, from foreign legends to Icelandic favorites, will play for an estimated 2,000-2,500 attendees, in the quiet East Fjords fishing town of Neskaupstaður.
Eistnaflug began in a spirit of inclusiveness that has guided it since. “Eleven years ago, I moved to Neskaupstaður,” Stefán says. “I had been a hardcore drummer, but here there was no hardcore scene, so I got money together for a bus to bring my friends for a concert.” At the first Eistnaflug, ten bands played for perhaps 50 people. “It was a great party.”
As Eistnaflug has grown, it remains at heart an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the music they love. This year, Icelandic metal gods Skálmöld, Sólstafir and Dimma headline alongside Poland’s Behemoth and England’s Carcass, but the festival is growing in scope as well as size: this year includes indie, hip-hop, punk and dance acts. “I have friends playing all different kinds of music,” Stefán explains simply.
Every year, Eistnaflug ends with a Saturday night set from legendary Icelandic rockers HAM, and then a party with a guest DJ; this year’s being Reykjavík favorites FM Belfast. It’s a tradition in-keeping with the Eistnaflug philosophy, to get everyone dancing until it’s time to go home.
Eistnaflug has a self-enforced ‘no BS’ policy, discouraging destructive and intimidating behavior. “I always say, if people don’t behave at my festival, I won’t do it again,” Stefán says, and it works: “Every year, there’s just so much love in the atmosphere.”
This is one reason why visitors from all over Iceland, and beyond, flock to this remote part of the country. Another is the landscape. Nestled between mountain and fjord, Neskaupstaður is a unique place for a metal festival—every year, foreign bands tell Stefán how happy they were to shred in such a beautiful place.
After Eistnaflug’s opening day all-ages show, bands play from early afternoon straight through until 1 am on Thursday night and till 3 am on Friday and Saturday. Eistnaflug is a single-stage festival, so attendees can see each band, held indoors, in Neskaupstaður’s sports hall, so the only thunder and lightning happens on stage. All weekend, shuttle buses ferry concertgoers between Neskaupstaður, nearby Egilsstaðir Airport, and hotels and guesthouses in towns in the vicinity. But most festivalgoers simply camp out around the venue.
The acres of tents become a place for metalheads—and others—to rest up, meet up, and hang out before heading inside for an evening of rocking out. Music and love—at Eistnaflug, nothing else matters.
For a complete schedule and to buy tickets, go to eistnaflug.is.