As the sun went down behind the Charlotte skyline, the Icelandic gothic folk-rockers, Of Monsters and Men, stepped out onto the dimly lit stage, donning their all black attire in front of thousands at the Uptown Amphitheatre.
The Icelandic ensemble broke into the musical spotlight in 2012 with the chart topping track, “Little Talks”. After a three year hiatus, the band released their second studio album in June which became Of Monsters and Men’s highest-charting album, selling over 60,000 copies in the first week alone.
Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir sauntered to the forefront, leading the nine-piece band onto dark stage as the thumping of the base drum matched the audience’s heart beat. Of Monsters and Men kicked off their unforgettable performance with the ominous tune, “Thousand Eyes”.
Nanna crooned into her microphone as the pounding of the base drum grew louder and became more rapid. After completing her short solo act, Nanna stepped away from the microphone, grabbing a club from her band mate to join in on the beating of the base drum. Nanna rotated around the drum, resembling a witch prancing around a fire.
The dramatic uproar ceased as Nanna stepped back in front of the microphone to close out the beautiful, dreary anthem.
Of Monsters and Men mixed their set-list with tracks from both of their albums. After capping off a four-minute poetic performance of a track from “Beneath the Skin”, the band would switch back to their roots, igniting the crowd with an up-beat tune from their debut album, “My Head is an Animal”.
The concert had a feel that the Icelanders were telling a story over the course of just over an hour. Midway through the show, co-lead singer Raggi Þórhallsson chimed in, “This is a story from Iceland. This song is about a house, on a lake. And it’s called Lakehouse.”
It was the first time all nine members lined up in front of their own microphones to grace the audience with the tale of what perhaps was once a part of their Icelandic lives.
The mood went unchanged as Nanna went a cappella, performing “Wolves without Teeth” off of “Beneath the Skin”. As the stage turned red, resembling a crime scene, the white LED beams of light pierced the red fog. The more upbeat tune mixed well with Nanna’s soft, sweet voice as she sung the exuberant love song.
The show was well received. The band felt at home in the southern metropolis. At one point in the show, Nanna spotted the recognizable blue and red Icelandic flag in the audience, grabbing it from the fans and masking the iconic base drum with it. It was a turning point in the show as the energy grew stronger and the band members jumped around the stage as Nanna reached out, touching the hands of the audience members along the side-railing.
To no surprise, the audience’s spirit grew with the performances of “Little Talks,” “Mountain Sound” and “Crystals,” three of the bands more recognizable songs. After walking off the stage, teasing the audience, the crowd demanded an encore. Of Monsters and Men returned after an uneasy 60 seconds to sign off three fan favorites including the hit “Dirty Paws” and “We Sink”
The blending of Nanna and Raggi’s distinctive voices, the band’s trumpeting and loud drumming mixed with the echoes of the audience’s “heys!” left the Queen City with a memorable, scary good performance.