Of Monsters and Men vs. Japandroids: Two two-night stands
Japandroids by Erik Hess; Of Monsters and Men courtesy of their official site
By Justin Baker
There may not be two bands that have accelerated more rapidly and ridiculously to mass music geek adoration in 2012 than Of Monsters and Men and Japandroids.
These are bands that were barely on the popular radar a little over a year ago that are now in the midst of U.S. victory laps, hitting Minneapolis for the second time in less than year and playing to at least three times as many people, each selling out back-to-back December shows in larger venues than before. Monsters play on December 18 and 19 at First Ave, 'Droids on December 14 and 15 Triple Rock. If baseball players inflated their numbers like that, they'd be testifying before congress.
With each band playing a two-night stand in the space of six days, though, the music heads of the Twin Cities are in a unique position to decide which of these bands is most worthy of the hype -- and by extension, our precious love and devotion going forward.
Assuming you're still here, lets get caffeinated and break this thing down. It's a two-night stand-off.
Of Monsters and Men (heretofore denoted by the less cumbersome OMAM), by most accounts, began its journey from the Icelandic glaciers to American ears by winning something called Musiktilraunir, Iceland's equivalent of a battle of the bands. Their album hit top ten on the Billboard charts this year, out-selling fellow natives Bjork and Sigur Ros, and "Little Talks" was virtually inescapable if you owned a radio. They're so damn charming, though, there has been no discernable backlash. I remained skeptical, myself, until day one of Sasquatch Fest, where their mountainous, melodic folk jams made me roughly the 10,000th person to collect my jaw from the pavement and utter the phrase "next Arcade Fire." It's rare, but sometimes everyone is right.
Another case where, if not everyone, a highly vocal minority seems to be correct is in the case of Japandroids, which the indie rock nerderati have been insisting is a badass rock band since 2009. This Spring's Celebration Rock, however, took even the cult following off guard. The reviews were almost embarrassingly fawning, but:
A. It may actually be one of the best straight rock albums in recent memory, and
B. It's kind of cute when the professionally critical get so giddy they forget how to criticize.
Then, the 'Droids showed up in rock clubs across the country and just shredded them to pieces. By the time they were done with the Entry this July, there was nothing left to do but cuddle and share a cigarette.
The fact that both bands have racked up acclaim and (thus far) backed it up is about all they have in common, though. Beyond that, it's musical apples and oranges. Let's complete the breakdown, tale-of-the-tape style:
Non-Threatening foreign origin
'Droids: Canada (Vancouver)
'Droids: Guitar Rock/Two-Piece Indie Rock/Skinny Jeans and Whoa-Oh Hooks
OMAM: Folk/Arena Folk Collective/British Isles Mythical Folk Weirdness
Number of band members/instruments
'Droids: Such a pure execution of rock they will sing about crushes and making out and still melt your face.
OMAM: The Arctic Coming of Arcade Fire.
Sounds like _____
'Droids: the E-Street Band, on ecstasy, playing Ramones covers in your basement.
OMAM: the half-dozen illegitimate offspring of Bert Jansch discovered modern amplification and formed a folk-rock super-band.
Overused descriptor that can be coupled with band name and applied to Internet search (seriously, try it)
Narcotic equivalent of live show experience
'Droids: MDMA and Red Bull
'OMAM: Green Tea and altitude-induced hallucinations (the fun kind)
If their acclaimed 2012 album were a person, it would be ______
'Droids: Kevin Bacon, dancing alone in the warehouse in Footloose.
OMAM: the reanimated spirit of Fred Bear, armed with a softer disposition and an acoustic guitar.
'Droids: non-depressed males, age 23-31, who eat heartily but are perpetually skinny.
'OMAM: adults 27-37 who missed the Mumford bandwagon by 12-18 months.
Specific sing-along dialect
Unimpeachable hipster cred
'Droids: Oft-repeated legend of 2009 album Post-Nothing, which was intended to be their last after years of commercial failure, then suddenly caught on and allowed them to quit their day jobs.
OMAM: Actual Icelandic accents, use of glockenspiel.
Sarcastic quip typically overheard at start of show
'Droids: "Can he actually move around in those jeans?"
OMAM: "OMG, is this Team Iceland from NES Super Dodge Ball?"
Genuine quip typically overhead at end of show
'Droids: "Holy crap. These guys are awesome."
OMAM: "Holy crap. These guys are awesome."
So, maybe Japandroids and OMAM do have something in common. If you're going:
Japandroids at Triple Rock Social Club. 8 p.m. Friday, December 14 with Birthday Suits. Saturday, December 15 with Bloodnstuff. Sold Out. Click here.
Of Monsters and Men at First Avenue. 6 p.m. Tuesday, December 18, and Wednesday, December 19 with Elle King. Sold Out. Click here.
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