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Of Monsters and Men Give A Summer Finale

Of Monsters and Men at Surly Brewing Fields 2019
Photography by Dylan Novacek

Icelandic folk group Of Monsters and Men closed out Surly’s summer concert series. Touring behind my favorite album of the year, Fever Dream, the band presented a performance tailor made for an outdoor concert. 

I’m a super fan of a lot of artists, but Of Monsters and Men is the group that means the most to me. I have two tattoos for them and a deep connection with the group. Their lyrics hit hard, the soundscapes are beautiful, and they make me feel inspired daily. 

Of Monsters and Men at Surly Brewing Fields 2019
Nanna, Of Monsters and Men. Photography by Dylan Novacek.

This was my second time seeing them perform, and they did not disappoint. I felt that this show was a lot different than the last time I saw them in 2015. The band has evolved and changed over time, and in this case different is far from a bad thing. 

Fever Dream marks a stylistic change for Of Monsters and Men. Trading their Iceland inspired mountain sounds for a more traditional alternative pop approach, their performance was a blend of moody vibes and fan favorite folk rock sounds. 

Setting the tone with “Under a Dome,” the group ebbed and flowed through sounds of emotion and passion. Whether it was the high energy “Mountain Sound” or the emotional “Stuck in Gravity,” the crowd was 100% behind the band. 

Ragnar and Nanna, Of Monsters and Men. Photography by Dylan Novacek.
Ragnar and Nanna, Of Monsters and Men. Photography by Dylan Novacek.

The excellent live vocals of both Ragnar and Nanna were a highlight of the show. Ragnar was incredibly impressive. Their newest album has him singing a lot more than he had before, and his tone is excellent. Meanwhile, Nanna’s stage presence and energy captivated everyone. 

Ragnar, Of Monsters and Men
Ragnar, Of Monsters and Men, Photo by Dylan Novacek

Her vocals were strongest during their new track “Wild Roses.” Audience members could really feel her on this one. Additionally, she sounded absolutely perfect on “Ahay,” which was seriously beyond studio perfect. 

Nanna, Of Monsters and Men. Photography by Dylan Novacek.
Nanna, Of Monsters and Men. Photography by Dylan Novacek.

You can’t review an Of Monsters and Men show without mentioning the epic “heys” and folk rocky goodness that came from their older tracks like “Little Talks” and my all-time favorite song, “Dirty Paws.” Both songs mean the world to me and brought me to tears as I sang along. 

Their arrangements during these tracks were perfect. From the epic drums and high energy presence from Nanna to crowd participation, it was perfect. 

My only gripe with the show is that I could have used more high energy moments. However, I am the type of person who really likes to go super hard at shows. The setlist was shorter than other stops on the tour due to a time curfew. I was left wanting more. 

From new tracks like “Alligator” and “Wars” to fan favorites like “Lakehouse” and “King & Lionheart,” this show pleased fans old and new. It was a dream come true to get up close and take photos of them. Not to get too personal in my review, but this band means everything to me. 

If you have the chance, see them live and listen to their new album. You won’t regret it. 

Lower Dens
Lower Dens, Photography by Dylan Novacek

The opening act was a group out of Baltimore called Lower Dens. They were a perfect way to start a pretty chill night at Surly. Their lead singer had an approachable stage presence and excellent vocals.

The guitarist of the group was playing like it was nothing. He seemed unfazed by the big crowd and like he could play with his eyes closed. 

Lower Dens, Photography by Dylan Novacek
Lower Dens, Photography by Dylan Novacek

I liked how the group interacted with the audience. They were super cool and would be a perfect fit for any easy listening playlist. After looking into their stuff online I would recommend their track “Maneater.” Their sound is very late 80s mixed with modern alternative. 

Overall, I had a perfect night at Surly. This was my first time seeing a show at their festival fields and I absolutely want to see another show there. It’s the perfect place for an outdoor concert and I look forward to next year’s lineup. 

(Pro tip: don’t drive to this venue. I saw dozens of cars struggle to leave. Transit or biking is the way to go). 

Of Monsters and Men, Surly, Minnesota, Fever Dream
Photography by Dylan Novacek

Setlist: 

  1. Under a Dome 
  2. Empire
  3. Ahay
  4. King and Lionheart 
  5. Mountain Sound 
  6. Sleepwalker 
  7. Stuck in Gravity 
  8. Wild Roses
  9. Wars
  10. Crystals 
  11. Lakehouse 
  12. Little Talks 
  13. Six Weeks 
  14. Alligator 
  15. Waiting for the Snow 
  16. Dirty Paws 
  17. Yellow Light  

Author: Dylan Novacek

Graphic designer and photographer from Saint Paul, Minnesota. Fan of mid 2000s emo, late 90s boy bands and everything in between. Recent graduate from Concordia, Saint Paul. Check out my work: https://dylannovacek.myportfolio.com/

Written by Dylan Novacek

Graphic designer and photographer from Saint Paul, Minnesota. Fan of mid 2000s emo, late 90s boy bands and everything in between. Recent graduate from Concordia, Saint Paul. Check out my work: https://dylannovacek.myportfolio.com/

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