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Boston Calling September 2015: Of Monsters and Men

By Alan R. Xie, Crimson Staff Writer

Taking the stage at City Hall Plaza for its second performance at Boston Calling since the festival’s beginning in spring 2013, Of Monsters and Men opened its set on Friday night just after the sun had set. As the band began playing their new standard opener, “Thousand Eyes,” co-lead singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir alternated between serenading the dark crowd with her melancholy vocals and striking the floor tom-tom drum next to her. Hilmarsdóttir, along with other lead singer Ragnar "Raggi" Þórhallsson, stood at the front of the stage, almost blending in with the dim stage lighting that complimented the song’s brooding mood. They, as well as the rest of the band, were all dressed in black—perhaps an overt reflection of the darker, more introspective material of their new album, “Beneath the Skin.”

The band’s impressive nine touring members were scattered across the stage, playing a veritable symphony of instruments ranging from the trumpet to the accordion, with four guitarists sometimes playing at once. Although the crowd maintained a relatively low energy for the majority of the performance, several attendees near the front of the stage couldn’t help but jump and sing along to most of the band’s songs. During performances of particularly popular singles such as “King and Lionheart” and “Mountain Sound”—which actually happened at the very beginning of the set—the crowd seemed to surge together with additional energy.

The audience appeared less receptive to some of the band’s newer songs, with slower ballads from their release this past July such as “I of the Storm” failing to rally as much engagement. Nevertheless, Of Monsters and Men closed its performance with a strong trio of songs from its first album: “Lakehouse,” “Little Talks,” and “Six Weeks.” Partway through the first of these songs, during the bridge, drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson stood up and hit his drum sticks together, encouraging the audience to clap along. The band built on this momentum throughout the next two songs, closing on a strong instrumental solo punctuated by a flashing, colorful light show.

—Staff writer Alan R. Xie can be reached at alan.xie@thecrimson.com.

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