All Photos: Joy Asico & Haley Plotkin
All words: Joy Asico
Not since Bjork and Sigur Ros has there been a huge frenzy on Icelandic music makers. Until now. On the early leg of their first U.S. Tour and buzzing from SXSW, Of Monsters and Men stopped at the Black Cat to a very, very sold out show. I’ve never seen such a long line of people waiting to get in before doors opened…well for the Black Cat anyway.
Of Monsters and Men is a six piece Icelandic powerhouse whose names (especially their last names) I can’t pronounce. There were actually seven people on stage that night since they added a trumpet player for the tour. When the band came on, the lighting was dark for the first 2 verses – but then a burst of light blanketed the stage. The use of white christmas lights decorated the instruments and brought a dreamy, dare say, ethereal look and feel to their set.
It was hard to fit 7 people on Black Cat’s tiny stage with all the lights, instruments, and the band’s alcoholic beverages – but they managed to troubleshoot around their technical difficulties. Speaking of difficulty, the female lead singer, Nanna, seemed to have misplaced her guitar pick after the first song and asked the crowd if one might possibly have one on hand. Lo and behold, the Icelandic viking gods were watching over them because an excited fan pulled one out of her purse!
In addition to that helpful fan interaction, the band also took a quick midset break to converse with their fans and give away a genuine handcrafted Icelandic keychain courtesy of the mother of male lead singer, Raggi. Whoever wore green socks and can provide evidence was honored with a little piece of Iceland. Note to self, start wearing green socks.
An Icelandic version of their album My Head is An Animal was released in 2011 and due its success, a 2012 release of the U.S. album of the same name is due out in April. If you check them out on Spotify or iTunes, their Into the Woods EP is currently available. It is a four song sampling which includes their ever-popular song ‘Little Talks’. This band is magical and on the precipice of a breakout.
The supporting act for Of Monsters and Men another Icelandic singer/songwriter Lay Low. She usually has a 6 piece band traveling with her but due to budgetary and logistical U.S. issues, she is going solo on this trip. Personally, I enjoyed her acoustic set better than if she had a live band.