Of Monsters and Men, June 13 at Meijer Gardens amphitheater.
After opening act Cub Sport (Inbound from Brisbane; think Justin Beeber blurred with Talking Heads), OMAM played almost non-stop for 90-or-so minutes, opening with “Thousand Eyes” and closing with “Dirty Paws” as second encore. In between, the Icelandic alt-folk/rock band played songs you know – we all remember “King and Lionheart” – blended with songs off their latest recording, 2015’s “Beneath the Skin,” including the excellent “Wolves Without Teeth.” Surprising number of songs the audience knew and reacted to, considering they really only have two studio recordings in their catalogue. Songs from the new album are intriguing, but played live their big-drum sound can sound a little too similar when played one after another after another.
May I have more, please?
Maybe the best example of how Of Monsters and Men is an acquired taste was their two-song encore Monday night.
First lead singer/guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir (just Nanna, please) comes out with the sparse, haunting “Organs” off their 2015 recording, then with co-singer-guitarist Raggi Þórhallsson (just Raggi) and the entire band (all impossible to pronounce in English) belted out “Dirty Paws,” from the band’s 2012 release “My Head is an Animal” – with the trademark “big drum” sound pounding the audience.
Nanna can whisper out a song; but the band – with she and Raggi alternating or sharing vocals – can rip it up.
For the most part, the band rolled out its set at Meijer Gardens with precision and passion, often going from one song to another with the only break a quick guitar change. There was very little talk, very little audience interaction many bands use to catch their breath, and very little to disappoint the longtime fan or the OMAM newcomer. At least the crowd – mostly young, mostly female and couples; lots of selfies with the band in the background destined for Facebook or hipper – did not seem to be disappointed and stood on their feet for the entire set.
It was actually great to hear them at a small venue – they first hit the big time in 2012 at venues named Lollapalooza and Coachella and Bonnaroo. And this year they will be touring with Florence and the Machine at big venues with similar names. The music, though, may have overwhelmed the vocals a bit.
I have heard, and liked from a distance, some of the band’s earlier songs not only off their first recording but on the soundtracks of films “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, and TV’s “The Walking Dead.” After hearing most of the tracks off the new release, I may have to spring for the CD.
— K.D. Norris
What’s up next with the Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park: tickets (some limited numbers) still available for Tedeschi Trucks Band on June 17, Michael Franti & Spearhead on June 22, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros on July 17, Femi Kuti & The Positive Force Band on July 20, The Goo Goo Dolls on July 27, Jay Leno on July 28, War and Los Lonely Boys on Aug. 10, and Seal on Aug. 26.
Schedule and more info here.
For info on free concerts on Tuesday nights (starting in July), go here.