No words ring sweeter in the ears of an unemployed undergraduate than the phrase "free concert." In fact, when my friends and I heard about an iTunes Top 100 band playing for free in Silver Spring, Md., the tickets were printed and the ZipCar was booked in less than an hour.
Of Monsters and Men, an Icelandic indie rock sextet and self-described "amiable group of daydreamers," currently holds the number two best-selling album on iTunes for their debut "My Head is an Animal." With such resounding success, it was no surprise that the line in front of The Fillmore stretched around the block an hour before doors officially opened.
I confess that I only knew one Of Monsters and Men song previous to the concert, the ever-catchy and critically successful "Little Talks." My only regret after attending the show was that I didn't spend more time listening to their music and learning the lyrics beforehand.
With songs that featured emphatic chant styles and boisterous melodies, the band demanded a higher level of engagement from the crowd that I (vocally) was not able to give. Nevertheless, there was not a moment during the band's set that I wasn't jumping around on my toes or giggling with my friends at our luck.
The opening singer/songwriter, Lay Low, held her own with an interesting bluesy-experimental indie sound, but admittedly set a somber tone for the otherwise upbeat and lively last half of the show. The two artists collaborated together in the "Taste of Iceland" festival held on Saturday, April 14 at the Fillmore in Silver Spring.
It was clear that there was a real chemistry between Lay Low and Of Monsters and Men. Each made appearances at the end of each other's musical sets. In fact, the concert concluded with the majority of the band members and Lay Low circling around in a spirited jam session.
More importantly, becoming one of the most popular bands around the world in such a short period of time has not impacted the humility of the members. The band even dedicated one song to the father and son who were first in line for the show.
Only adding to the overall folksy storybook character of the group, the band members sported a range of outfits from a head-to-toe sailor costume to the typical plaid-and-dark-jeans artist combo. The stage lights were muted in the very beginning of the set in accord with the slow pace of the initial songs, but burst through as the music soared to a crescendo.
In addition, the stage background was ethereally decked with rows of vertically hanging Christmas lights. Together, these elements subtly created an almost magical atmosphere where I wanted only to listen to the accordion-filled, trumpet-blasting songs of Of Monsters and Men.
The show at the Fillmore was the last pit stop on the band's North American tour before their return to native Iceland. Reportedly, most of the band's North America shows sold out within the first day of being on sale.
I could go on about how spirited and infectious the band is, but the facts speak for themselves. I walked into a show on Saturday barely knowing one song from the band. I spent the majority of Sunday making up for all the work I hadn't done that weekend and playing "My Head is An Animal" on repeat. Of Monsters and Men, you've gained an ardent fan (literally) overnight.