Of Monsters and Men Stawamus Stage, Squamish BC, August 8
Published Aug 09, 2015There is little doubt that Of Monsters and Men are good. These Icelanders clearly rehearse a lot, and there was rarely an awkward moment throughout their lengthy headlining set of clean, professional folk-pop music. Even the rain that had spit on Squamish throughout much of the day cleared up for the great majority of their set, as if divine intervention was smiling upon them.
However, they did present a prime example of the big band syndrome mentioned in our review of Angus & Julia Stone. Performing as a nine-piece band, they hummed along at roughly the same tempo and feel from track to track like an unsinkable wedge of sound.
Granted, they switched up instruments between most songs, and there were busy and low-key moments in their arrangements, but the overall tone palette remained consistent. They rarely highlighted any of their performers, seemingly reluctant to take the spotlight (likely the same nervousness that Craig Shutko noticed in his review of their set at Sasquatch earlier in 2015), which is a shame, because they have a lot of obvious talent.
In particular, lead singer/guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir has a sweet voice, like a folkish Björk. But, where Björk commands attention, Hilmarsdóttir blended into the fold unassumingly.
That said, they drew a huge crowd who all seemed satisfied, so it's hard to fault them for appealing to the widest possible audience. It just feels like they could push the envelope further without losing the vox populi.