Of Monsters and Men @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, 4/5/2012
Despite being the first time Icelandic indie/folk tribe Of Monsters and Men braved a New York venue, they seemed like seasoned veterans. The six-turned-seven piece touring ensemble transformed the Music Hall of Williamsburg into a delightfully bizarre sing along- complete with clapping, stomping, and enough dancing hipsters to give Hope Street’s “Good Company” a run for their money.
The band’s lead vocalists, Nanna Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson, flawlessly belted out the better part of their debut release My Head is an Animal, while the crowd and remaining band members acted as their chorus. It quickly became apparent that the concert patrons knew every tune extremely well; so much so that at times it became nearly impossible to distinguish the audience from the band. The crowd’s exuberance did not go unnoticed- OMM seemed to feed off the frenzied energy, encouraging the venue to continue. Drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson provided some serious entertainment throughout the set as he wildly swung around his drumsticks and mimicked the sounds of his drumkit with his mouth.
In addition to album staples “From Finner” (which was sweetly dedicated to their tour busdriver), “King & Lionheart,” and “Lakehouse,” the group introduced 2 incredibly catchy new songs: “Mountain Sound” and “Beneath My Bed.” Later in the set, the bands most recognizable song “Little Talks” was welcomed with overwhelming excitement from the crowd the moment the telltale trumpet intro blasted through the speakers. Although “Little Talks” is the band’s only song on rotation at many American radio stations, it was obvious that the crowd had not shown up for this song alone. The encore featured “Sloom” with Nanna, Raggi, and guitarist Brynjar Leifsson taking the stage. Shortly after the remaining members joined those three for the final song, an extended version of incredibly enchanting “Yellow Light.”
Between the amazing energy and the obvious familiarity of the crowd with the music, it was no wonder that the venue was a quick sell out. Luckily, the Bowery’s camera crew was on hand to simultaneously broadcast the show on the ‘Bowery Presents’ YouTube channel. It was easy to forget that this quirky little group had traveled all the way from Iceland, rather than the rooftop of some nearby loft. The band fit the scene so well that one of the only reminders of this disparity was drummer Arnar counting off each song in their native Icelandic tongue. If one thing is for certain, Of Monsters and Men are welcome back in Brooklyn any time they please.