Scandinavia made a stop in Boston over the weekend, as Of Monsters And Men (Iceland) and Highasakite (Norway) made their way from the Arctic Circle and down to warmer climes. Of Monsters and Men have enjoyed unparalleled success (in the non-Björk or Sigur Rós category) behind their sole LP from 2012, My Head Is An Animal, which bursted with catchy sing-alongs like the horn-driven “Little Talks.” Co-leaders Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Raggi Þórhallsson were at the heart of the sunny, optimistic songs, and people of all ages comprised the sold-out room and joined in the choruses. It would be a bit trickier if they sang in Icelandic, I’d imagine.
Though they’ve just got one record out, the next one is imminent and they weren’t afraid to showcase a healthy chunk of Beneath The Skin; nine songs by my count. The dramatic lighting design helped set the mood as well, with dense fog sliced through by thick beams of light, and also multi-mirrored devices sending off small beams that looked like lasers. They said very little and let the music do the talking instead.
Norway’s music is bookended by the fertile metal scene and the freak MTV one hit wonders A-ha. Four piece Highasakite don’t straddle either of those worlds. Sporting bright blue hair, singer Ingrid Helene Håvik reminded me of a less world-weary Lykke Li, a few less heartbreaks endured. The mix of electric and acoustic drums gently pushed the songs forward, and Kristoffer Lo’s subtle guitar lines and occasional tuba played as accent pieces to Øystein Skar’s synth, which carried the melodies along with Håvik’s silky vocals. More acts like this and Norway’s music scene won’t solely be known for indecipherable band logos and smoldering church ruins.
Full photo gallery of both bands here: