Consistent droves of Icelandic families flushed through Fríkirkjuvegur in anticipation of the free outdoor concert at Hljómskálagarðurinn. This Saturday night included more than just tipsy-trendy-twenty-somethings—finally an opportunity presented itself for tweens and young adults alike to claim temporary residence in 101 Reykjavík, and use the chance to see one of Iceland’s fastest claims to fame: Of Monsters and Men.
Their look was foolproof, with co-vocalist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir rocking her floppy fedora signature piece, and her male counterparts—five in total—sporting an array of tightly tailored suit jackets paired with dark-toned flannels. If hipsterdom and indie chic were to be found sipping on soy lattes at Hemmi og Valdi—a coffee shop where most artists convene simply to convene—it may be comparable to ‘the monsters’ in their element: perfectly composed and inarguably appealing to the times.
The garden was exceptionally full, but bodies were comfortably dispersed, allowing just enough room for a mass of bobbing to coalesce. A noticeable lack of smoke was probably a nod towards the age average—hovering at about sixteen—as wide eyed innocents preferred activities such as taking artsy photos of one another at obscure angles and jumping up and down in synchronicity.
Maintaining a steady 4/4 melody, they worked methodically through their single album ‘My Head Is An Animal’ with little lag between tunes. Like a layer cake, every song fit proportionally on to the next, as the audience waited eagerly for what they knew would be the topper, ‘Little Talks.’
With a few uplifting words from the band about their experience at the keyboardists’ lake house before performing “Lakehouse,” and a comment on how “all we really need is family and friends,” the typically cold-tempered Icelandic audience began picking up enthusiasm with no shortage of overly exuberant beat clapping. By the time they reached the finale, clapping had actually imbued their performance with a deep collaborative sense, featuring ‘ayo!’ as its accompaniment. Yes, the hopefulness of youth hung blissfully in the air as any false sense of self-worth was pushed aside for the glory of naïveté.
The whole package was precisely that: a package. From the miscellaneously strewn string lights and multicolored lanterns that decorated the aerial sphere of the stage, down to the finely polished and obviously wisely produced performance, it is no shock that these youngsters (all between the ages 21 and 25) were headed for stardom. Having only formed in 2010 and already hitting top charts in Iceland and the U.S., they have undeniably found a sweet spot in the alt rock scene. Not unlike Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros, they have nailed that co-vocalist bantering, ‘free-spirited’ aesthetic that caters perfectly to the increasingly nostalgic era we are now entertaining.