Words by Lauren Gill | Photos by Anthony Abu-Hanna
Philadelphia, PA — In August 2011, Philadelphia’s Radio 104.5 debuted Of Monsters and Men’s triumphant wall of Icelandic sound, “Little Talks.” Fast forward to April 2012 and the sextet has sold out shows in a matter of minutes across the U.S., before their album, My Head is an Animal, even hit American soil.
Some bands are just that legit that they can sell out venue after venue with just a few songs to their name. Of Monsters and Men is one of them. Their Tuesday night show at the Theater of the Living Arts, which not by coincidence was on the same day as the American release of their album, (the band thanked 104.5 for premiering “Little Talks”) was part mystical, part celebration, and part “la la la.”
Armed with charming accents, tambourines, a trumpet, accordion, and pretty much any other instrument imaginable, Of Monsters and Men took the stage (which was adorned with Christmas tree lights that somehow made Philly into an enchanted forest) and delivered a jubilant show, proving why they have been given hosannas such as being called the Mumford and Sons and Arcade Fire of Iceland.
Coming in with an hour and a half set, the band took the crowd through their debut album, with a few surprise add-ons. You would think that the fact that their LP just came out the day of the show would mean that the audience wouldn’t be familiar with the material, but it certainly didn’t seem to make a difference as they sang along word for word, much to the astonishment of the Monsters, who at times took out their cameraphones to snap some shots of the packed house.
The Icelandic upstarts showed off their versatility, shining on the upbeat, soaring numbers as well as during more delicate moments. Regardless of the tone of the songs, one thing there wasn’t a shortage of was the band conducting the audience in coos of “la, la, la.” “Lakehouse” was an excellent example of this, as the surprisingly melodic crowd joined the Monsters a capella for the outro.
They didn’t just stick to their own catalogue though. The sextet ventured into the Cure’s, covering “Close to Me.” They introduced the track by praising the Cure, and they did justice to them with their electric rendition.
Of course the highlight of the night came with their captivating single, “Little Talks,” which was positioned near the end of their regular set. This was by far the biggest singalong in a night full of singalongs, complete with a glorious trumpet solo that flooded the TLA with nothing short of pure musical joy.
Tuesday night showed one of the aspects Of Monsters and Men that makes them so appealing. This appeal comes with their obvious love for what they’re doing
up on the stage. It was pretty noticeable that they were having just as much, if not more fun than the crowd, often smiling to eachother in a “I can’t believe this is happening,” sort of way.
Following their regular set, the band came out for a three song encore, much to the excitement of the “One more song,” chanting crowd. They ended with fragile yet magical “Yellow Light,” which is also their album closer.
On the fairytale-esque “For Finner,” which came in as the second song of the night, Of Monsters and Men sang, “We’re far from home but we’re so happy.” If Tuesday night is any indication of what’s to come for the group, they certainly have a lot to be happy about.
Slow and Steady
King and Lionheart
Love, Love, Love
Close to Me (Cure cover)
Beneath my Bed
TheWaster.com | Iceland