Without question, Of Monsters and Men has been one of those sudden impact bands that seemingly come out of nowhere. Well not literally out of nowhere; they hail from Iceland. That country must have something in its water since the artists that come from there are huge â€“ Bjork and Sigur Ros. But last night at the Observatory in Santa Ana, Of Monsters and Men found time in between their festival circuit to play a sold out show, proving that theyâ€™re the next big thing to come out of the Land of Fire and Ice.
Before the first band even went on, the entire crowd was practically drenched in sweat. That can be attributed to the intimacy of the venue. Those that made it will probably never see Of Monsters and Men in a venue that small, so this was a last chance kind of show for people to see them up close and for only $20.
As expected, their set consisted of songs from their debut album My Head is an Animal, which was originally released in 2011. The beauty of their music comes from lead vocalists Ragnar Ã¾Ã³rhallsson and Nanna HilmarsdÃ³ttir, whose vocals masterfully and intimately intertwine with one another. It really is seamless and natural when you see and hear them sing or finish each otherâ€™s lines during a song.
They opened with the â€œDirty Paws,â€ and from there the crowd was in full force, singing from the top of their lungs and clapping along to the rhythm. Itâ€™s a song that starts off slowly, but bursts into energy thanks to drummer Arnar Hilmarsson. â€œFrom Finnerâ€ followed next, which summed up the bandâ€™s uncanny ability to always involve the crowd as much as possible. From the â€œhey heyâ€ to the â€œla la laâ€ melodies of the song, there was always that joyous performer-audience interaction that I havenâ€™t seen in a while from a live show. â€œSlow and Steadyâ€ was just like as the name sounds, as HilmarsdÃ³ttir took over vocal duties, tenderly singing along to the rhythm of a bass drum and the crowdâ€™s hand claps.
On â€œMountain Sound,â€ HilmarsdÃ³ttir set out a competition between the boys and the girls in the room with the former singing along to Ã¾Ã³rhallsson and the latter singing along with HilmarsdÃ³ttir. It clearly was a blissful atmosphere as the lines â€œhold your horses nowâ€ and â€œwe sleep until the sun goes downâ€ were sung by each side and converging on the line â€œthrough the woods we ran.â€ It really was something I havenâ€™t seen in a long time where an audience was so in sync with a band. They even through a bit of a twist in their set by doing a raw cover of the Cureâ€™s â€œClose to Me.â€ On â€œYour Bones,â€ lovely touring member Ragnhildur GunnarsdÃ³ttir added a soothing trumpet to the fold, while â€œLove Love Loveâ€ saw HilmarsdÃ³ttir give the crowd a lesson in the Icelandic language.
In â€œKing and Lionheart,â€ the crowd was basically the entire rhythm section, clapping along to the percussion for the entire duration of the song and singing along to the song about courage and carrying on a brave demeanor. No one in the crowd was certainly afraid the let loose to show their appreciation to the band, even if some of their moves wereâ€¦questionable. â€œLakehouseâ€ slowed down the tempo of the night as the crowd served as the vocal melodies of the song, belting out the â€œla la laâ€ melody as loud as they possibly could.
To no surprise, â€œLittle Talksâ€ garnered the loudest ovation of the night as HilmarsdÃ³ttir asked the crowd â€œAre you ready for this? Hold on to the edge of your seat.â€ Everyone was dancing and singing along to every note, as HilmarsdÃ³ttir and Ã¾Ã³rhallsson fed off each otherâ€™s lines and energy. The crowd didnâ€™t even need to be commanded to sing as the band silenced their instruments to let the audience sing the ending chorus on their own. GunnarsdÃ³ttir even provided a pretty ear-popping and impressive trumpet solo thatâ€™s not found on the record.
For their encore, they came back out for a trio of songs. On folk number â€œSloom,â€ the two vocalists sang a duet until the rest of the members made their way back on stage, leading the chorus of â€œso love me mother, love me father, and sister/brother as well.â€ They also played an unreleased song called â€œBeneath My Bed,â€ which Ã¾Ã³rhallsson joked was on YouTube. They officially ended the night with â€œYellow Lightâ€ that featured delicate piano keys by Ãrni GuÃ°jÃ³nsson and a jazzy trumpet by GunnarsdÃ³ttir, as HilmarsdÃ³ttir fist pumped those in the front row a good night.
Iâ€™ve already stated this earlier, but Of Monsters and Men definitely know how to get a crowd involved to the point where the crowd was basically part of the band. Standing in the middle of all that singing along made it a definitive experience. But when youâ€™re a band whose members are multi-instrumentalists, play catchy music with heartfelt and genuine lyrics, the crowd will always be at your side. After their done playing festivals, it really might be difficult to catch them in a small venue like the Observatory. It wouldnâ€™t be surprising to see them play a venue like the Wiltern or even the Hollywood Bowl. Regardless, if they roll through your town, do your best to buy tickets as fast as possible because it will sell out real quick.