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Concert Review: Of Monsters and Men stops by Columbus for a little talk

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A cool, fall breeze blew through the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion last night; just enough to waft Mikey’s Late Night Slice’s delicious, cheesy scent through the venue. It was about 9:04 p.m. when I managed to nab a corner of blanket from the couple in front of me to sit on when the lights went out and the crowd rose to their feet. Two rows of floor lights illuminated the silhouettes of the nine performers and an array of crisscrossing LED pipes in the back of the stage.

Of Monsters and Men, a five-piece band, swooned Columbus with their endearing Icelandic accents and impressive instrumental capabilities that were enhanced by four backup performers.

Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir’s light, wispy voice that nicked every single high note serenaded Columbus through the first song and carried us throughout the whole set. Co-singer and guitarist Ragnar Þórhallsson assisted with his smooth, folk pipes. Both singers dressed in dark clothing, and from the lawn, Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir appeared to stand just a touch taller than Þórhallsson. But their singing capabilities measured out equal.

Cool blue and purple light danced on the band most of the night as they played songs like “King and Lionheart,” “Six Weeks” and “Crystals.”

The two vocalists really hit their stride in “Mountain Sound” which featured Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir singing chorus and Þórhallsson taking care of the verses. However, unlike the studio version where both parties are clearly heard, when the two sang simultaneously last night, Þórhallsson’s low register was really buried when combined with his counterpart’s high vocals and the other bass instruments on stage.

As the set wore on, the temperature began to cool down. But I cannot say the same about the crowd or the band.

All night, it felt like a crescendo was building in the LC Pavilion. The band moved from their slower opening with modest light accompaniment to playing their more notable songs with spectacular light shows.

With nine performers, Of Monsters and Men are able to utilize several different instruments during their songs, including trombone, trumpet, accordion and xylophone. This variety of instruments added more texture and layers to the songs that differentiated one from the next.

The most impressive instrumental interlude came during “Little Talks,” toward the end of the set. One of two women standing on platforms at the back of the stage who contributed backup vocals and instruments was granted a lone spotlight as she ripped through a jazzy, riff-ridden solo that sent the crowd into its biggest tizzy of the night.

Despite how the crowd responded to Of Monster and Men’s arguably most popular song, the peak of the night came at the very end during “Lakehouse.” There was no mistaking the amount of fun the band was having on stage with this one — Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir even hopped off the stage to interact with the crowd. The crowd bobbed and tossed their heads back with every “La la la.”

Although some of Þórhallsson’s smoky notes were missed last night, Of Monsters and Men put on a very solid performance that Columbus warmly accepted.

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