Dear promoters of Iceland Inspires,
I attended the concert earlier this week after a period of excessive anticipation. I visited your site more than once – and still visit it – and I love your webcams that are like eyes pointed at the beautiful Icelandic landscape. I had seen the poster announcing the “World’s Most Stunning Location for a Concert” the week before the event was supposed to take place and the idea of being able to witness it truly psyched me up. I passed the location of Seljalandsfoss a number of times without being able everytime for a reason or another to take my time and stop to admire the beauty of the waterfall. I imagined how music and nature would merge conveying an extraordinary atmosphere. In my home country I had a few times the occasion to attend concerts held in very suggestive historical venues like the Roman theatre of Ostia Antica, and I was expecting something ideally similar, but amplified by the majesty of Iceland’s nature. Man’s creation cannot withstand Nature’s mastery.
You can then imagine the disappointment I experienced when I apprehended that for causes depending on weather conditions the event was not to take place anymore at the “World’s Most Stunning Location for a Concert”, but in downtown Reykjavík. Of course, I can’t really blame you for not being brave enough to change day instead of venue for the concert, devoiding thus the whole event of its extraordinary connotations. How could you make such a change, after luring tourists and people of all kinds with the mirage of such an exceptionality, after making them book flights and hotels and buses just for the purpose of being there on that day? How could you make all those tourists unhappy, just to stick to your original plan? Tourists are stupid anyway: for them waterfalls in the wilderness or city ponds must make little difference. It’s still H2O we are talking about, after all.
And indeed water was abundant on the 1st day of July. It was the rainiest day in three months or so, I think. Maybe the rainiest day of the whole year 2010 so far. On the other hand, the day after – but postponing the event would have been a catastrophe for you, I know – the weather was quite alright: just a few drops from a constipated mass of clouds. Isn’t Nature just so terribly unfair and sadistic sometimes? So the waterfall and the option of making the event unique with it was ruled out for an evil conjuncture of socio-economical and natural reasons that was impossible to work out. You cannot fight against this sort of things, unless you like self-deception and bitterness a lot. At any rate, you can’t hope to win and get things done as they should. Compromise, always compromise.
We – the concert’s attenders – gathered in the dampness of the lawn surrounding the Tjörnin while Jupiter Pluvius, or better his Nordic counterpart Thor, was having quite a lot of fun, pouring buckets of water on our sometimes capped sometimes uncapped heads. After just forty minutes or so I was more soaked than the ducks swimming in the lake. And I had a lady perforating my occipital and parietal bones with her umbrella alternately. But why caring about rain and skull perforations when you have music? That was supposed to be the spirit, no?
I honestly wonder – and I have wondered even before the concert about it – why if you advertise a concert with a pretentious name as Iceland Inspires then you invite to the event musicians that have nothing to do with Iceland at all. Like Damien Rice or Glen Hansard. Of course one can like them both, and Spiritualized too, but what about Iceland? You could have invited almost anybody, even a random Filipino folk musician or the Leningrad Cowboys. I thought the title you attached to the event actually meant something? I thought it was supposed to be a themed concert? I must be very stupid, but where did I go wrong? Oh, and by the way, why were Spiritualized given more time than any other artist? I guess because their commissions were higher? Then we have another sad case where money dictates the rules and arts cannot do anything but follow. Again, I thought the spotlights were supposed to be pointed mainly at the local artists, to let the world outside acknowledge them and be inspired by Icelandic music in Icelandic context?
This automatically brings up another sore point: the purpose of attaching a label like Iceland Inspires to the event was supposed to mean you were trying to emphasize the presence of artists that would be able to inspire the abroad audience or to offer a faithful view of how the uniqueness of Icelandic identity inspires music to the rest of the world. How can this work if instead of giving more space to representative artists like Steindór Andersen with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson or to Amiina you decide to invite foreign musicians or worse, Icelandic musicians that are insipid imitations of more accredited foreign musicians like Natalie Imbruglia or Coldplay – not that those are that great in their original incarnation as well, if you ask me – ? You cannot claim to be truly inspirational if you are moved by other motives, like popularity and success. The two notions don’t mix, you know. You wanted to create a pleasant fair for the mediocre taste of the majority, not to inspire. Then why not being honest at least? You can fool the mass and make them happy, but you shouldn’t try to promote the event as something different than it actually is. Just because the concert is free it doesn’t mean you can do it. That’s pure and simple travesty. If you were doing it in good faith, which I hope, it’s asinine anyway. The concert you organized had no true inspiration that was perceivable, even if one tried very hard: the musicians were forced to play in a television show kind of format, just for fifteen minutes or little more, while some artists clearly required things to be arranged differently; the atmosphere you granted to people who attended was dreadful, leaving aside the waterfall that wasn’t there, leaving aside the weather that sucked through and through; several cameras went back and forth in front of the audience all the time no-stop, blocking the view and creating disturbance in the quality of sound every time they got close to the amps; there was no decent security nor any kind of helpful staff member around if you needed them; and I could go on and on.
I hope next time you’ll be more conscentious and honest with your motives. If you want to organize a popular event for the benefit of people following the webcast to attract audience to your website, feel free to do so. But at least let’s call everything with its actual name instead of inventing fancy concepts evoking suggestions that are far from being your main concern.
There’s always hope for improvement. Thanks in any case for the effort, although scarce.
PS: videos from the concert are available for watching here.