Thursday July 10th
We started the day off pretty low key. It was by far the best day of weather in Iceland so far, bright and sunny without a cloud in the sky. I went for a run towards the end of the fjord through the Neskaupstaður neighborhood streets and then down along the water past the venue. At the end of the fjord is where all of the tents were set up for those who were brave enough to face the elements. As I ran down the road, I passed throngs of concert attendees that flashed me the horns at the sight of my SJR tattoo. It was safe to say this was going to be a packed show, I was surprised at just how many tents filled up the area at the foot of the fjord. When I got back, Samantha had already had gone down to the lobby and had breakfast, which was really good. There was more than enough breakfast foods to fill up on, plus juice and coffee. After that I lounged around listening to music with the windows open while Samm went on her first post-cancer run. I was quite proud of her for doing this, she made it just over 2 miles with a good incline at the point where she turned around.
After we took showers and got ready, we had plenty of time to go buy some beer and go to lunch at the pizza parlor. Samantha went into the gas station before we got going to get a bottle of water, and she ended up in line behind none other than Tomas Lindberg, who we had met the night prior. It still blows my mind how we were just walking around mingling with At The Gates. And I say that as someone who is always around the guys from Down and EyeHateGod doing the same. We had lunch out on the back porch over looking the water and it was totally relaxing. After we were done, we headed to the liquor store to pick up some beers. I was surprised they had some cheap Estonian beer, which I bought a case of, along with some Icelandic beer called Polar Bear. We also got a small bottle of vodka to finish things off. After lounging on the lawn in front of the venue for a bit, we decided to go back to the room and get ready for the festival.
I had noticed on the video promoting the festival that there were people jumping from a dock into what had to be freezing cold water. After a few beers for some liquid courage, I decided I was going to partake in this tradition that gave Eistnaflug its name (“flying testicles”). We watched some people leap into the water screaming and my anxiety about this idea grew and grew. Finally I just said to hell with it, and took a running start leap over the edge of the dock. When I hit the water, it was like being electrocuted. All of my breath went out of my lungs and I swear my soul left my body. It was as if I had a birds eye view of my body beneath the blue water. I blinked and then shot up past the kelp and exploded out of the surface. Somehow I paddled to the iron ladder and crawled up and back onto the dock. Thankfully the sun being out meant my teeth weren’t chattering for that long. I don’t know how anyone could last for more than a few minutes in that water.
After drying off, we saw our friends that we had met from last night and set up camp on a picnic table right in front of our car. We turned up the music full blast and again seemed to be the pre-festival entertainment center with plenty of beer and music. I tried some dried out fish the Norwegian had brought, I think it was like the equivalent of jerky. Not too bad I guess, much better than the gross fermented fish I have seen all over northern Europe. We met a lot of people coming and going from the docks back up to the venue, and went in for a few of the more popular Icelandic bands. I really enjoyed Momentum, and was blown away by their song “Holding Back”. By the end of the day and At The Gates drew closer, we were feeling good and buzzed from the festivities. We made sure to get inside with enough time for us to be front and center. This would be a hard spot to remain though. At The Gates exploded onto the stage with “Slaughter of the Soul” and it was like something out an old school metal concert, with people jumping off the stage and crowd surfing. Samm had to relocate to the side of the stage to avoid getting crushed. The band played plenty of old classics and almost the entirety of “Slaughter of the Soul”. It was very similar to the setlist they had for the live album from 2008. The set ended with “Kingdom Gone” and me jumping off of the stage. I just had to do it. Afterwards, we mingled for a bit before heading back to the room. I attempted to get a hold of the people we had met but I think everyones cell phones were dead at that point so we passed out and got some sleep for the right back to Reykjavik.
Iceland | Day 1: Reykjavik & Suðurnes | Day 2: Akureyri & drive North | Day 3: Mývatn & Goðafoss | Day 4: Dettifoss & drive West to Norðfjörður | Day 5: Eistnaflug | Day 6: Glacier Lagoons & the drive South