A perfect medley of nostalgic callbacks to “My Head is an Animal,” fan favorites from “Beneath the Skin” and artistic explorations from their latest album, “Fever Dream” comprised indie pop band Of Monsters and Men’s titular concert at Mohegan Sun this past Saturday. The band’s return to the venue stage comes four years after performing for their “Beneath the Skin” tour. Their artistic and personal growth was clear in the energetic performance that masterfully captured their musical journey of three studio albums over the past nine years with a tight setlist that felt almost too short.
The American indie pop band Lower Dens, with Jana Hunter, Geoff Graham, Abram Sanders and Will Adams, opened the show with songs from their latest release, their fourth studio album, “The Competition.” Shortly after, Of Monsters and Men took the stage with the first single from “Fever Dream,” “Alligator,” which was the perfect mix of the band’s more sophisticated sound and a sound similar to their upbeat debut album. With lyrics like “Wake me up, I’m fever dreaming/And now I lose control, I’m fever dreaming” and a strong guitar beat in the chorus, the song is a fitting introduction.
Performing “King and Lionheart” and “Mountain Sound,” favorites from the band’s first album, in succession continued to increase the excitement of the crowd. Lead singer and guitarist, Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, empathetically switched between an electric and acoustic guitar to perform the more intimate former song and the heartening latter song. The eye from the band’s album cover and some fun laser lights were enough of a backdrop to highlight the performance without taking away from the band, which also includes secondary singer and guitarist Ragnar Þórhallsson, lead guitarist Brynjar Leifsson, drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson and bassist Kristján Páll Kristjánsson.
Ragnar debuted the dreamy “Wars” from “Fever Dream” as Nanna played a drum beat in the back. She quickly returned to the microphone to perform the latest album’s second single, “Wild Roses,” which is a more euphoric exploration into the band’s dreamy sound. Along with “Alligator,” it plays pop enough to be suitable for mainstream radio, while still remaining true to Of Monsters and Men’s unique sound.
“Wolves Without Teeth” and “Crystals” were fun callbacks to the band’s second album, showcasing its more intimate and introspective sound. One of my favorites from the new album, “Stuck in Gravity,” was performed with all the gravitas and dramatics of the song by Ragnar, and was a perfect lead-in to the band’s final three songs before the encore.
“Lakehouse” and “Six Weeks” were sleeper favorites from “My Head is an Animal,” and the crowd couldn’t have been happier to see the songs get the recognition they deserve in concert. “Lakehouse’s” acoustic and stripped-down beat was a thoughtful contrast to the following song, “Little Talks,” the band’s most successful song. Despite its appearance on the radio, the band still managed to perform it with a fresh tune that didn’t seem overplayed and displayed the audience at one of its most energized. “Six Weeks” closed out the main part of the concert and sounded like one of those songs you thought you’ve heard before, but didn’t know the name of. It’s the perfect culmination of nostalgia and innocence.
And my personal favorite from the new album, “Sleepwalker,” featured in the encore performance, which I think perfectly encapsulated the dream-like euphoria of “Fever Dream” and properly showcased the melding of Ragnar and Nanna’s vocals. By the time the echoing and impactful “Yellow Light” came on for Of Monsters and Men to truly close out the show, you could tell the audience didn’t want the show to end, and neither did I. Every song they performed felt like a meaningful choice, displaying the different and developing themes of each album. This resulted in a tight setlist, but I only wish they could have played more songs.
Of Monsters and Men got their start in their native country of Iceland when they won a national band competition in 2010, then soon released “My Head is an Animal” in 2011, “Beneath the Skin” in 2014 and finally, “Fever Dream” this past summer.
Photos by Charlotte Lao / The Daily Campus
Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.