ATH Abroad: Secret Solstice – 2018

It’s a crazy thing to travel abroad right now as an American with everything that’s going on (wrong) in our country. One can feel embarrassed, guilty, or even ashamed to admit your nationality while trying to blend in with the locals and keep your voice down. What better way though to bring people together, regardless of background or political affiliation, than a massive, 3 day music festival. Secret Solstice Festival in Reykjavik allowed the wife and I to act as locals while soaking up some great new Icelandic music and enjoy the weather, the food, and the culture.

For more thoughts and pics from the grounds, hit the jump.

Iceland. We’ve done this once before back in 2014 and loved it so much we decided to return four years later and do things right. Like no place on earth really, one can walk black sand beaches, climb to the top of daunting waterfalls, and, quite literally, swim with whales. I’d recommend a vacation to the country, and if at all possible, bookend your trip around attending the Secret Solstice Festival in Reykjavik.

Compared to four years ago, this festival has perfected what it means to be a well oiled machine in the music business. Ease of access to booze, food, and a fluid system of getting folks in and out characterized this now powerhouse event. Though we admittedly could only attend on Saturday because of prior traveling plans and some weird Iceland bird flu inflicting both the wife and I on Sunday, we enjoyed our time at this well organized fest.

It’s wild to see what local Icelandic teenagers get excited about as they cheered on hip-hop/pop groups like Young Karin, Joey Christ, Sturla Atlas, Valby Braedur, and Geisha Cartel to name a few. Not kidding, we would see young cats literally sprinting to make it on time to the sets of these groups. While not really my bag, one cannot deny the ability for these groups to create tons of crowd interaction and energy. It was seriously impressive to see the way these groups can command a mostly Icelandic, young teen crowd.

For me, the true power of Icelandic music at the time is in their hardcore scene as evidenced by veterans HAM and newcomers Une Misere. HAM is a legendary hardcore Icelandic band who reunited only for this festival and put on an incredible performance. Sounding a bit like early Metallica, with shredding rifs and growling vocals, this group was our second favorite of the day. Absolute highlight of the evening though were locals Une Misere. These guys packed 40 minutes of some seriously raw, hardcore metal similar to Refused or my old amigos Blindside. Seriously, this band had a shit ton of fun performing and you can see by my photos below that they had a massive amount of energy and charisma. Check out their music now.

Death From Above also played and they were a thing. The set felt fairly uninspired as they struggled with technical issues and possible jet lag. After seeing them upwards of 5 times stateside, this was not their best moment. Sorry guys.

Someone told us Slayer played but we didn’t stick around due to the aforementioned Iceland bird flu. Going from 100 degree heat to 45 degrees, cold and raining finally got to us. Still coughing.

For anyone who happens to be looking for a chill festival abroad, Secret Solstice is definitely one of the best options and I recommend you check it out in 2019. You will be treated like royalty and can bask in the backdrop of the northern lights. We love Iceland. We miss you. We might move.

On a side note, huge huge shout out to our PR friends that made this happen and hooked us up with some amazing swag. Looking at you Betty and Isabel. This is how you do things.

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