Of Monsters and Men @ The Oxford Arts Factory
Many weird and wonderful things have risen from the tiny nation of Iceland, Jonsi/Sigur Ros, Bjork, Emiliana Torrini and Eyjafjallajökull (that’s a volcano). Vulture feels that after their show at Oxford Art Factory it won’t be long until Of Monsters and Men take their place amongst the more well-known Icelandic exports. Flanked by two supporting Australian acts, the Oxford Art Factory was, for a Sunday night, chomping at the bit for a night of simple pop tinged folk music.
“…a fantastical set filled with stories of kings, mountain sounds, birds, bees and travel by whale.”
First support act were former couple, now artistic duo The Falls (no not the English post-punk band). Having hear of but never seen them, this Vulture was interested to see a healthy support for this raw, harmony filled act. The Falls make the kind of music where it feels like a window has been opened up and their entire relationship is on display. Their music filled with intoxicating melodies and raw emotion they managed to sway more than a few of the punters into listening. We’ve never seen a vibraphone put to more suitable and eerie use either.
Following on was The Trouble With Templeton, the moniker of Brisbane –based singer/songwriter Thomas Calder. Having garnered some valuable airplay and kudos from Triple J, it was obvious Calder had a burgeoning fan-base down here in Sydney. Normally accompanied by piano and electric guitar, it was purely a solo affair with Calder showcasing some impressive guitar playing and a raw if not sometimes overpowering voice. The most well received track of his set was ‘I Wrote A Novel’, a fantastic track full of romantic images, that seemed to invoke a feeling of listening to a busker by a café. The man can whistle as well; a talent we’re sure of it.
Just as the crowd was getting restless in the break, an eerie feedback laden sound started echoing around the venue as Of Monsters and Men took the stage and the opening chords of ‘Dirty Paws’ were played on what seemed to be a poorly lit stage. This Vulture was instantly proven wrong when, as the band launched into the full song, a carefully placed selection of fairy lights sprang to life. The use of something so simple, but so effective created a feeling like the crowd were part of an intimate party in the forest, no easy feat in the industrial feel of Oxford Art Factory
What followed was a fantastical set filled with stories of kings, mountain sounds, birds, bees and travel by whale. The latter being cutely cleared up by co-singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir (mouthful we know) that “This is not how they travel in Iceland.” Their crowd interaction was funny and genuine as you could tell they were amazed they had a fan base so far from home. When one punter absurdly asked, “When do you drink in Iceland?” The simple reply given was, “We are Vikings we drink all the time.”
Admittedly towards the end of set the vibe began to drop, this could be attributed to a realization that the songs were following a very similar formula, or it was just due to it being late in the night, or maybe it was the obvious struggle the band was feeling fitting all six of them on the venues cramped stage. However crowd favourites Six Weeks, Mountain Sound and their single Little Talks still went down a treat. You could also be forgiven in thinking that the chorus in Little Talks would fit perfectly in a Eurovision song entry. It’s amazing what an upbeat feel and a trumpet line can give to a song.
Their songs were all heavy on choruses and sing-alongs, but remained at their core, acoustic based, simple and heartfelt. Upon closing their 3-song encore you could tell the crowd felt like they had just been part of something special, even if they were tired. It will be interesting to see what lies in the future for Of Monsters and Men.