Of Monsters and Men get lost with D.C. on first night of Fever Dream Tour
Seeing a band perform on the first night of tour is not the same as seeing a band in the midst of tour. Night 1 is no normal show. Night 1 is a long-awaited coming out party for new music – a celebration of an album’s deliverance from production to the hands of the public, a live debut for numerous tracks that have not yet been played outside the carefully-controlled confines of the studio.
The Anthem played host to Night 1 of Of Monsters and Men’s Fever Dream Tour on Wednesday, September 3rd and, like any good Night 1, served as an excuse to get wholly lost in the band's junior album – their first in four years.
OMAM took the stage and immediately dove into their latest, opening with “Alligator,” Fever Dream’s thumping lead single and an appetizer for what the rest of the album has in store. While the band’s debut and sophomore releases heavily feature the rustic, acoustic roots that helped them blow up through hits like “Little Talks” and “Mountain Sound,” Fever Dream is a significant but welcome pivot toward a record rich with experimentation.
The Icelandic quintet played seven new tracks live for the first time, and as the group progressed deeper into the set, the show, fittingly, got a bit dreamier and dreamier. The record’s cover art, a single bloodshot eye painted in pinks and reds, was the lone backdrop, and the disuse of any video screens allowed OMAM's shadows to dance across the walls for the full two hours they performed – a suitable “special effect” for the feel of the night.
Navigating the transitions from the folkier, subdued sounds of My Head is an Animal to the poppier, electronic sounds of Fever Dream, it became clear that joint leading vocalists Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þorhallsson are OMAM’s not-so-secret weapons. The duo has the ebb and flow of any successful relationship, with Hilmarsdóttir leading and Þorhallsson complementing at times, then Þorhallsson commanding and Hilmarsdóttir supporting at others. Their broody-yet-powerful harmonies are the common threads that connect the three albums, and thankfully they’re sprinkled throughout the new record, too.
“We’re playing a lot of these for the first time,” Hilmarsdóttir reminded the crowd in her melodic Icelandic accent before jumping into another new track. By the time the band debuted “Under a Dome,” the show had a lucid dream vibe about it, as if we the audience knew we weren’t actually awake, but were enjoying the trippiness of the lights and the airiness of Hilmarsdóttir and Þorhallsson’s stage presence nonetheless as another novel song unfolded before us.
OMAM ended the set with a hot streak of their juggernauts, running through “Lakehouse” into “Little Talks” and finally “Six Weeks.” Confetti shot over The Anthem and the crowd was totally engrossed, chanting with the band’s call-and-repeat rallying cries and urging on Hilmarsdóttir as she jumped on the stage’s back platform to bang on the drums herself.
It was a performance that invited everyone to get communally lost in a feverish dream, a subconscious journey through the aptly-named new album and its blend of slow balladry and synthetic chaos. As the encore approached its end, just before “Sleepwalker” turned into “Yellow Light,” Hilmarsdóttir marched to the front of the stage and pointed to the audience through the hypnotic lights, as if summoning the venue to wake from its trance.
Yes, Fever Dream is different, but different doesn’t have to be negative, especially when it’s proof of a hunger to not replicate something that’s already been done. Of Monsters and Men held DC’s hand and walked the crowd through their now more expansive and diverse catalogue, and, together, we all got pleasantly lost within it.
Ahay (live debut)
King and Lionheart
Under a Dome (live debut)
Slow and Steady
Stuck in Gravity (live debut)
Soothsayer (live debut)
Róróró (live debut)
Waiting for the Snow (live debut)
Sleepwalker (live debut)
Reviewed by Kayla Wilkinson, photos by Xavier Dussaq.