Of Monsters and Men has been one of indie rock’s breakout bands the past year, but nowhere are they hotter than in Seattle. Their Paramount show was sold out weeks ago, and on Tuesday night their fans sang along to every song, swaying back and forth on many.
The band returned the love by putting on a short but powerful performance that often felt like a jamboree. There are seven members of OMAM onstage for this tour (the band has a core of five), and they chose to play together near the front of the stage, rather than spaced around it. It helped tear down the wall between audience and performer.
Even the lighting added to the intimate feel. They began the opener “Dirty Paws” behind a white screen, but when that dropped, lights illuminated all the players, and not just the two singers. Often the audience was also lit under the house lights, which added to the relaxed nature of the show.
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But the harmony between singers Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Pórhallsson is the most striking part of any OMAM performance, and that was spot-on Tuesday.
For all its considerable charm, OMAM is still a band touring behind a single album. “My Head Is An Animal” is a great album, though OMAM will need to vary its tempos in the future to sustain the bond with its audience. The only cover the band did was “Skeletons” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but even that was turned into midtempo neo-folk.
The group played just over an hour, but if it was short, it was sweet. Though “Little Talks” and “Mountain Sound” were the moments captured on cellphone video, “King and Lionheart” was also a highlight for the harmony singing.
OMAM dedicated “Lakehouse” to radio station KEXP, and Hilmarsdóttir said the station’s support, and that of their Seattle fans, made Seattle feel like one of “our hometowns.” That earned another cheer from the crowd, but also made the performance of the song feel like a valentine to local fans, as did graffiti cannons that might have been borrowed from a Flaming Lips show.
Neither Hilmarsdóttir nor Pórhallsson said much from the stage, but when they did speak they came across as humble, gracious and a bit shy.
And if the night felt slightly abbreviated due to the limits of their catalog, by playing a short set, they left the crowd wanting more. That’s an axiom as old to rock music as Elvis Presley, but rarely followed.
Here’s hoping OMAM comes back soon. Their Seattle fans — their early “hometown” adopters — will be waiting.
Charles R. Cross: firstname.lastname@example.org.