Last Saturday at Gaukurinn bar, we caught The Vintage Caravan play a fantastic final show before heading off for the second part of their European Gateways tour. So what’s the story behind what is currently Iceland’s most popular rock band, and where can you expect to see them over the coming months?
See also: Music in Iceland
The Vintage Caravan originates from Álftanes, a small town near Hafnarfjörður. At first glance, one wouldn’t consider this sleepy settlement to be the sort of place capable of birthing screaming guitar licks, pounding thunder drums and vocal chops to match the likes of Axl Rose, Ted Nugent, or perhaps most similarly, Ozzy Osbourne.
A second glance at Álftanes might not do it either, to be entirely honest…
And yet, we would be all blissfully mistaken, ignorant of the talent that can arise in the most unexpected of places. It was in Álftanes, 2006, where The Vintage Caravan initially formed, as the brainchild of lead singer Óskar Logi Ágústsson and former drummer, Guðjón Reynisson.
See also: The Best Live Music Venues in Iceland
The group did not begin work in earnest until three years later. In 2009, the band’s recorded their self-titled debut and released it in 2011, establishing them as a new breed of Icelandic musician, quite unlike their more well-known compatriots—ie. Björk, or the ethereal Sigur Rós, for instance.
The Vintage Caravan’s first foray into the world of music publishing would be enough to earn them a record contract with the label, Sena, a music organisation known for aiding up and coming acts across the country.
The bassist, Alexander Örn Númason, joined shortly before the band began work on their second album, Voyage, recorded and released in 2012. He replaced Halldór Gunnar Pálsson, who had recorded bass on the first album, and Páll Sólmundur Halldórsson Eydal, who played temporarily with the band in 2010.
Following the release of Voyage, they signed to the German record label, Nuclear Blast, which earned them the opportunity to shoot a music video for the track, Expand Your Mind, as well as re-release the entire Voyage album in 2014. Having reached over 800,000 views on YouTube, Expand Your Mind it is considered the band’s most well-known track.
In April 2015, the drummer Guðjón Reynisson left The Vintage Caravan for personal reasons, though still remains good friends with his former bandmates. He was replaced by Stefán Ari Stefánsson. Only a month after this change in line-up, the band released their third album, Arrival, again with Nuclear Blast.
Evan Sherman, a critic at Echoes & Dust music website, wrote of the album, “The rhythm section of the band is energetic, powerful, and balanced perfectly in the mix, while the guitars charge in the front and drive the melodic beauty of the songs. The production on the album is terrific and only further exemplifies the technical abilities of the musicians, these guys can play, and considering how young they are, their futures should be plenty bright. ”
But what can be said for seeing them live? Well, in truth, The Vintage Caravan are a band that seemingly demands it. Stage personas are well-honed, but not so polished as to appear phoney, and their music is made to be played loud in a dark and crowded room.
Sure, the trippy artworks on their albums are a joy to look upon, and their recorded tracks are produced with care and professionalism, but nothing quite tops the experience of seeing the boys play their hearts out to an audience hungry for it.
See also: 8 Essential Icelandic Music Albums
The Vintage Caravan makes rock music fun again, channelling the spirit of classic outfits such as AC/DC, Slade, Deep Purple or Aerosmith. At the same time, their music—while heavy in noise and distortion—is grounded in the blues, reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s psychedelia with an added sprinkling of Black Sabbath’s penchant for melancholy.
Perhaps it’s just me, but frontman and guitarist Óskar Logi appears the spitting image of The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins; bulging, expressive eyes, sweat-sodden hair, a toothy-grin. With a similar, yet more grounded showmanship, he makes eye contact with audience members and will often arch a cheeky brow, as if to say, “You can call me the new Hendrix… ”
To be frank, the facial expressions of all band members is a pretty majestic sight, comparable to Jökulsárlón or Vatnajökull. Mouthing along to screeching instrumentals is a common motif in live performances.
All of this culminates in something quite special, and allows The Vintage Caravan to masterfully utilise their crowd’s loyalty into energetic and frantic shows. Performing in English, rather than Icelandic, has also kept the band’s music open to international ears, and glowing reviews in the foreign press have, in large part, spurred The Vintage Caravan’s meteoric rise.
The band will be playing the below dates across Europe this year. Tickets for Gateways Part II can be purchased at www.thevintagecaravan.eu
APR 13 – Durbuy Rock Festival – Saturday, 7:00 PM – Bomal, Belgium
APR 17 – Melkweg – Wednesday, 8:00 PM – Amsterdam, Netherlands
APR 18 – VOLT – Thursday, 7:00 PM –Sittard, Netherlands
APR 19 – Burgerweeshuis – Friday, 7:00 PM – Deventer, Netherlands
APR 20 – Trix – Saturday, 7:00 PM – Antwerpen, Belgium
APR 21 – Turock – Sunday, 7:00 PM – Essen, Germany
APR 23 – Sputnikhalle – Tuesday, 7:00 PM – Münster, Germany
APR 24 – Coq d’Or – Wednesday, 7:00 PM – Olten, Switzerland
APR 25 – PMK – Thursday, 7:00 PM – Innsbruck, Austria
APR 26 – Kino Ebensee – Friday, 7:00 PM – Ebensee, Austria
APR 27 – Posthof – Zeitkultur am Hafen – Saturday, 7:00 PM – Linz, Austria
APR 28 – Café Central Weinheim – Sunday, 7:00 PM – Weinheim, Germany
APR 29 – Die Pumpe e.V – Monday, 7:00 PM – Ki, Germany
MAY 01 – Pumpehuset – Wednesday, 7:00 PM – København, Denmark
MAY 02 – Sticky fingers – Thursday, 7:00 PM – Inom Vallgraven, Sweden
MAY 03 – Kägelbanan – Friday, 7:00 PM – Stockholm, Sweden
MAY 04 – John Dee Live Club & Pub – Saturday, 7:00 PM – Grünerløkka, Norway
MAY 06 – On the Rocks – Monday, 7:00 PM – Hki, Finland
JUN 08 – Rock Hard Festival – Saturday, 7:00 PM – Gelsenkirchen, Germany
JUN 08 – Rock ‘n’ Booze Open Air – Saturday, 7:00 PM – Bückeburg, Germany
JUN 20 – Freak Valley Festival – Thursday, 7:00 PM – Netphen, Germany
JUN 21 – Secret Solstice Festival – Friday, 7:00 PM – Rvk, Iceland
JUN 23 – Black Deer Festival – Sunday, 7:00 PM – Kent, United Kingdom
JUL 20 – Zwarte Cross – Saturday, 7:00 PM – Lichtenvoorde, Netherlands
JUL 23 – Metaldays – Tuesday, 7:00 PM – Tolmin, Slovenia
AUG 03 – Wacken Open Air – Saturday, 7:00 PM – Wacken, Germany
OCT 26 – HRH Prog – Saturday, 7:00 PM – Pwllheli, United Kingdom
Have you heard The Vintage Caravan, or seen them live in Iceland? Are you planning on seeing The Vintage Caravan on their tour, Gateways Part II? Make sure to leave your thoughts and queries in the Facebook comments box below