What better way to experience a concert in Cape Town than at the Kirstenbosch Gardens? Unfortunately, for the OMAM (Of Monsters And Men) crew, they’ve caught us in an awkward time in our unpredictable seasons. Cold and drizzly, the hipsters of the Mother City persevered. They came out in force, equipped with their green H&M jackets to support the Icelandic band.
Weather aside, the show was pretty spectacular. We have treated with crystal clear views of the city, pretty stage lights and a great performance by the opening act, Gangs Of Ballet. I spotted at least one Icelandic flag in the crowd which really goes a long way in making the band feel at home in a foreign country.
The setlist was a great mix of the singles plus reaching from both released albums. Here’s the full setlist of Night 1 in Cape Town –
Thousand Eyes, Slow Life, Lakehouse
Empire, I Of The Storm, Little Talks
King & Lionheart, Backyard, Six Weeks
Black Water, Crystals, Organs
Mountain Sound, Hunger, Dirty Paws
Winter Sound, Wolves Without Teeth, Yellow Light
Right in the middle of the set, we see a very nervous Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson (co-lead singer, also…what a rad name) and a very enthusiastic praying mantis which starts to climb up his mic stand. He hilariously freaks out on stage missing a cue to sing, luckily most of their songs are duets so it’s not a big deal. Did I mention they are from Iceland? Apparently they don’t have bugs over there, as he explained to the audience after the song ended, adding “I’m a grown man. I might be short but I’m a grown man”. During the song, after running around the stage a bit to compose himself, he shouted “F#%k off!” at the praying mantis. Here’s a video for those who weren’t there.
I get that you don’t really find bugs in places of high altitudes, but his reaction to a little praying mantis was priceless, I’m not saying I wouldn’t have done the same, but these things are to be expected when playing a gig in a botanical garden!
The Nitty Gritty
Of monsters and men are really good at giving you what you get from their two albums. The small details that you hear in their album, you’ll find it to be executed accurately live. Like the ambient guitar of their lead guitarist in Yellow Light or the trumpets you hear in Numb Bears or Little Talks. But that’s what you should expect when you have nine band members on stage giving you your money’s worth.
The performance and stage presence of the band is really engaging with the crowd. If you were to make eye contact with Ragnar you’d feel him looking into your soul. The vocal of Nana can be haunting at some points and leave you feeling the love she felt when she sang Love Love Love (in the second show only) or the doubt and unsurety in I of the Storm. She also can become quite the rocker chick. With their closing song, Yellow Lights, she was waving her hair around banging a floor tom around and ended up being on the floor with it. The rest of the band members also bring a great energy to the crowd and make you feel alive as you might nostalgia if you have been listening to the band for the three years that they have been commercial.
I found myself feeling nostalgic as they mixed a good amount of songs from My Head Is An Animal. I imagine that those songs have taken them through difficult times in their lives, just as it has for me, and performing it live is them connecting themselves to old fans, which created such an energy within the crowd.
Photography by Curtis Pow-Chong
Additional information/images from Siba Holani and Anne-Mart Visser.