The conclusion of the third annual ATP Iceland Music Festival left most concert-goers satisfied, with winning performances from punk-rock icon Iggy Pop, groundbreaking hip-hop group Public Enemy, and indie-pop legends Belle and Sebastian, among others.
The setting of an abandoned military base certainly set the tone of the weekend—while artists from a variety of genres were featured, ‘subversive’ was their unifying characteristic.
Driving up to the gate at former NATO base Ásbrú felt strangely surreal. My grandfather worked for the U.S. army at the NATO base when it still stood, and childhood memories of being escorted through security by menacing American guards did not jam with the prospect of attending an underground hip-hop, post-rock, electronica music festival.
Photo: ATP Iceland.
For the most part held in a converted airplane hanger, renamed Atlantic Studios, the festival felt intimate without being claustrophobic. Some have complained about the poor acoustics of the main stage, but the size and design of the venue allowed for excellent ventilation, and easy access to and from the concert hall.
Food trucks were parked outside the hanger, and judging by the constant lines of waiting customers, enjoyed significant popularity.
Diversity characterized the crowd, which seemed to be a good mix of locals and visitors of all ages. Of the latter, most reportedly came to Iceland primarily to attend ATP.
Security was present, but neither intrusive nor oppressive, and passing from venue to venue was hassle-free.
Beer cans littered the ground but few appeared to be overly intoxicated, and the atmosphere was relaxed and low-key. Notably, police reported that standard checks for drunk driving conducted on the adjacent highway Reykjanesbraut, yielded not a single incident the entire weekend.
Sitting in Andrew’s Theater waiting for Kippi Kaninus to take the stage, I was reminded of a story my mother used to tell me about the first time she went to see an American movie at the base when she was nine.
At the conclusion of the movie, which I remember, perhaps incorrectly, to have been E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, my mother got up expecting to leave, when the crowd rose, put their right hand on their heart, and sung America’s national anthem, ‘the Star-Spangled Banner,’ in unison.
In short, the RÁS 2 and Bedroom Community curated experience at Andrew’s Theater, had a very different feel.
The fact that most of the artists appeared to be enjoying themselves at least as much as their audience was revealing of a generally easygoing and warm ambience.
Would definitely recommend for any indie-music enthusiast looking for a unique experience.