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I Am the Worst: Of Monsters and Men Edition

Stephen Markley

2:37 PM CST, December 18, 2012

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Errant followers of this blog may recall that this summer I went with a couple of friends to Iceland where we gallivanted around, interviewed the mayor of Reykjavik, and stayed in the band Of Monsters and Men’s old apartment.

My friend Trin went on to travel around Europe for several months and managed to land back in Chicago just in time for us to get tickets to see the Icelandic folk rock group play at the Riviera Theater in Uptown. Here are some things I noticed and/or happened:

1) Of Monsters and Men generates a kind of rabid following you wouldn’t expect for a band with one album out. A girl we stood next to at the concert (Her name? What am I a f***ing journalist?) told me that she really couldn’t name a band she liked more at the moment, and my friend, Trin—Jesus Christ—I thought this kid was going to throw his panties on the stage. I certainly enjoy the album, particularly the single “Little Talks,” but I also want to maintain my dignity and stay in front of any backlash. Like I tell all the impressionable young people: there is no greater currency than being cool, so be prepared to throw everything and everyone you once loved under the bus should conventional wisdom suddenly deem them to suck.

2) If I’m ever elected mayor, my first order of business will be to sign an ordinance prohibiting concert and sport venues from charging $6 for any beer below the standards of a Budweiser. Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Light, Miller High Life, Pabst—these beers have a $4 ceiling and everyone who sells them for higher should be ashamed of themselves and shunned by society (Trin and I voiced our discontent by only buying 10 of them).

3) I was making great jokes to these two girls we were standing next to. I was right in my five-beer money range when everything I say (I think) sounds charming (to me) and plus I was wearing my most rugged trucker’s hat to denote vast capital accumulations of authenticity. Trin was trying to figure out how to get his panties on the stage without unbuttoning his jeans.

4) A singer named Elle King opened, backed by only a drummer. Elle had clearly had a few, and was letting the F-bombs fly in her between-songs patter (is it possible that Riviera was paying her in beer? If so, those High Lifes don’t fetch the same value on the street, Elle). Nevertheless, she made for a good twangy opening, singing a few originals, and a rousing country rendition of some hip-hop tune where a lady talks about her vagina.

5) Of Monsters and Men have two lead singers. Nanna (pictured above) looks like an incarnation of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl and has a mellifluous voice that coats each of the band’s songs and makes you think of marrying the right girl outdoors while it’s snowing. Trin once exchanged tweets with her to explain that we’d stayed in the old apartment, so I’m sure security was watching us. Raggi, the male lead vocalist, is the perfect example of why portly young children have nothing to fear. Just have incredible vocal abilities, a knack for combining the traditions of American folk with a Euro sensibility, throw on a pork pie hat, grow a beard, and you’ll be golden.

6) My obsession turned out to be with a blonde keyboardist and trumpet player, who also picked up an accordion a few times. After reviewing the Of Monsters and Men website and Wikipedia page, I’m still not sure who this woman is, but I do now at least know that I have thing for women who play the trumpet. As I explained to Trin, “She’s multi-talented. Swiss Army Knife of OMAM, dude. Let’s get her out front with that trumpet a little more.”

7) Let’s all just adopt the condom catheter. This is the idea where you put the condom catheter on your penis and then have a little bag attached to your thigh, so you can pee into it without missing the game or concert. I’m ready to start normalizing this. I’m so sick of having to go to the bathroom at events, fighting your way over seats and through crowds and up stairs and down ramps—let’s just please say f*** it and all start peeing into bags on our legs. I spent the last three songs on the verge of a full-blown meltdown because I had to pee so badly. It was one of those pees that when you finally reach a urinal, you can't even go because your bladder is like a deranged WWII-era Japanese soldier still alive on some remote island, who doesn't realize the war is over.

8) The concert was great. Great rendition of “Little Talks” with grade-A trumpet solo. Great new song debut. Just great.

9) What was not great was that after the concert Trin convinced me to go “full Biebs” with him and camp out by the band’s tour bus in order to get a picture with Nanna and possibly explain once more how much we liked their apartment in Reykjavik. We haggled about how long we’d actually wait it out. “Thirty minutes? No more than half an hour,” I absolutely insisted. We stood by the bus in the relative cold while others lined up by the Riviera’s back entrance where we'd been told to assemble.

To give you an idea of how crazy Trin was getting, at one point he saw a roadie get onto the bus, and he said to me, “Wait, do they just leave that door unlocked?” But he said it in such a way that it could only be interpreted as, “Should we break into Of Monsters and Men’s bus?”

When I pointed this out to him, he said, “Well, I’ll just lie on the couch in my underwear. They’ll get it.” Eventually, this twerpy British roadie came over to shoo us away from the bus, so we had to go wait in line with a bunch sixteen-year-old girls with braces. Standing at the ass end of a line of sixteen-year-old girls in the cold to meet a band is a truly humbling experience. These girls were asking to get their pictures taken with the twerpy British roadie in lieu of the actual band, who remained inside. “Want me to get one of you and that cute British roadie?” I asked Trin, who’d dragged me to this subterranean portion of the rock bottom.

10) And the worst part? After waiting an hour with him, I didn’t even stick it out. You know how it is when the longer you wait for something the less capable you are of giving up on it? The way you’re better off hanging up rather than being on hold for five minutes because after five minutes you feel compelled to wait five hours? That’s what happened. I left Trin there with the 16-year-old girls with braces, got on the Red Line, and went to the bar. He got a picture with Nanna and presumably she signed his cleavage. Meanwhile, stupid me--I missed my chance to tell that lovely blonde trumpet player that her show had compelled me to embrace the condom catheter from here on out.