Slow & Loud
I'm 28. In October, on my birthday, I fly to Iceland. Almost the entire week passes on the road along winding fjords through stormy wind, rain, and double rainbows.

Sigur Rós plays on repeat in the car.

In Reykjavik, I go to an old record store and buy two albums at once—all that was in stock.

Every time I hear Gong, I want to cry.


I'm 30. I rented a studio in St. Petersburg at the final station of the northwestern metro line—the only apartment that fits my current budget.

I read the news that a volcano with a difficult-to-pronounce name is awakening in Iceland. I buy tickets, book hotels, apply for a visa, and don't tell anyone about it.

Three months later, my plane landed in Keflavik.

I climbed the volcano in the evening of the next day. It hasn't erupted for a week, but the lava fields are still hot.

Kveikur is playing in my headphones, and I want to cry.

For the next ten days, I just drive, go to the mountains, wander on black sand, and spend the night in hotels in the middle of nowhere.


I'm 31. Sigur Rós announces their first tour in five years. Once a day, I go to the website to check the concert dates and ticket prices.

September 28, Lisbon. October 1, Barcelona. October 5, Munich. October 7, Zurich. October 11, Berlin. October 19, Stockholm.


I'll turn 32 in three weeks. In August, I went to Georgia. I work almost all day long, and I go out into the city in the evenings.

On October 1, I have to leave. My EU visa expires in a month.

I bought a ticket to Stockholm with a departure in three days in the morning.


The tap water here has a specific taste.

Everywhere in the city, I see black posters of an upcoming concert and take pictures of each one. Berlin has long been sold out. I eat a bun with cardamom in the park and realise that it will be my birthday in four days.

I return home and buy one of the ten remaining tickets in Zurich. It's twice as expensive as I can afford, but I don't care.

All night I've been looking for the nearest departures and thinking about how to get to Switzerland.


I lose my jacket at the transfer in Paris and book a car at Milan airport six hours before the flight.

At the check-in counter, it turns out that there are not enough funds on my credit card for a deposit.

Wi-Fi doesn't work. The internet bank has technical problems. I leave a desperate voice message for my friend and sit on a bench, trying to do something.

An hour later, I return to the counter. The girl who was processing the documents said that she had found a better car for me. She says that the price will remain the same, smiles, and cheers me on my birthday.


I drive to a mall, buy a jacket, and some food for the road. Fill up a full tank at the border and drive along green meadows with grazing cows.

At dusk, I park near a stone house in a small village and call the owner on the phone listed in the note on the door.

A nice woman in her seventies meets me at the gate and says that today I am staying alone in the house, although usually she rents out several rooms at once. When I ask how it happened, she replies that it's my birthday present. I want to burst into tears right on the spot.

In the morning, she sets the table with fresh bread and five types of local cheese for breakfast.

I drive among typical postcard views and think about the shore of a cold ocean with hundreds of ice fragments on it.


The next day, I woke up at six in the morning and made a 15-kilometre detour to the border with Liechtenstein just to send a postcard from the local post office.

At three in the afternoon, I park the car in front of the dirty pink hostel's building, leave my things, and take a tram to the city.

I get off at a random stop and walk around the town. Stand on the roof with a group of tourists while the sun sets over the rooftops of Zurich. The phone alarm rings, and I get on a train heading north.


A wave of people washes me out of the train car at a station near Halle 622, a concert venue with a purple neon sign in an industrial district.

I sit on the steps of a closed office building on the opposite side of the road. Several companies about my age drink beer from tin cans nearby. We just look in one direction and wait for the security guards to open the tall iron doors.

It's cold inside, but I leave my jacket in the cloakroom.

On the counter to the right of the entrance, they sell cassettes, badges, and grey t-shirts with the lettering Slow & Loud. I've never bought anything at concerts before. You can only pay in cash, so I hand over the last fifty-franc bill and leave the change at the bar.

I walk towards the stage, sit on the floor next to strangers, and just listen to their conversations. After half an hour, my legs started to swell. I get up and look back at the almost endless crowd.

At eight o'clock sharp, the lights in the hall go out, and we dive into silence in a second. The first notes of Untitled #1 are heard. Everything around me vibrates. The sound reflects off the walls in waves. It flows around us. Passes through.

In a lonely beam of light, Jónsi plays his guitar with a violin bow. He raises his head and looks seriously into nowhere. You saw the light. His voice fills the remaining space.

Tears run down my cheeks.