Add the Icelandic sextet Of Monsters and Men to that list of rock acts with a "Philadelphia story." Joined by seventh musician Ragnhildur Gunnarsdóttir on trumpet, accordion, and keyboards, the cheerful Icelanders delivered an exultant 90-minute set at the Theatre of Living Arts on Tuesday. It was the first of two sold-out nights and their purposefully chosen live Philadelphia debut, coming on the release date of their keenly anticipated debut album, My Head Is an Animal.
The Philly honor roll that Of Monsters and Men has now joined includes old regional faves such as Yes and Peter Frampton (both playing before 130,000 at a gate-crashed JFK Stadium gig in June '76) along with a semi-local guy from Jersey named Springsteen. And like them, Of Monsters and Men's special Philadelphia rapport stems from early commercial radio play here - in this case, via local "modern rock" station WRFF (104.5 FM), which began playing OM&M's single "Little Talks" last summer. That infectious, alternating boy/girl-sung number - suggesting a folked-up Scandinavian Arcade Fire or a better Mumford & Sons - drew huge listener response, earning it heavy rotation and prompting similar radio stations nationwide to add it.