SXSW Review: Of Monsters and Men, Ed Sheeran [Cedar Street Courtyard, March 16, 2012]

Austin, TX – If you have ever read anything from our SXSW rants you would certainly know about Cedar Street Courtyard. It’s apparently where we go to get lessons in melodramatic, hyperbolic writing. Forget about the fact that the venue is between two brick walls and staged on a plot of land the size of some Toronto backyards. Also try to ignore the intense and at times combative security, the contrast between us (read: the “tremendously arrogant“) on a balcony and you (read: the “woefully unfortunate”) jostling for space in the trenches or perhaps in the long cue outside. (My dear boy, if I could convince someone to spend $1500 on me and get away from work for a week without retribution from my boss, I would be a tremendously poor candidate for your laissez faire usage of the word “arrogant” – as it is, I’m just tremendously poor). Along with that-dive-bar-which-should-remain-unknown, this has been our SXSW backyard since I first climbed up the sound guy’s trolley 4 years ago.

Of Monsters and Men

Of Monsters and Men, Cedar Street Courtyard Filter Showdown

Filter’s line-ups have always been favorites among PM writers and photographers (read: me, Ricky, Derek and Paul) at Southby. But these guys/gals from Reykjavik really absorbed something from the place; maybe the sun? If someone blended Iceland with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, they’d get something lesser than this 6 piece bundle of red bull. Apparently, they joked with Derek that they are starting from SPF 50 and working their way up. One look at the photos and you’ll see that the audience agreed – the vocals playfully asked for sunglasses during the set.

Of Monsters and Men, Cedar Street Courtyard Filter Showdown

At the risk of sounding dismissive, Of Monster and Men are a bit more folky and melancholy than Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Their demo song Little Talks does sound like the latter group in composition – quiet verses, riotous chorus inter-mixed with “HEY” shouts on a catchy melody. Thankfully, that wasn’t the bottom of the trick-bag. They made very good use of their vocals – both have bright, distinct sounds that are betrayed by appearances. I admit being surprised when they opened . Being 6 persons, accordions and trumpets were also interspersed, and added to the . Besides the demo song, I’d also recommend King and Lionheart, as well as Six Weeks, which I believe was the swan song on this occasion. Judging from this set, if their tour path coincides with your geographical location, it would be a shame if you missed them.

Of Monsters and Men, Cedar Street Courtyard Filter Showdown


Ed Sheeran
This is what we thought Ed Sheeran sounded like from our brief survey before the show. A 21-year old who sings slightly twisted, modern, forlorn love songs that cater to teenagers. Easy. Ricky went elsewhere, me and Derek stayed upstairs on the balcony, initially, gawking like idiots.

Ed Sheeran, Cedar Street Courtyard Filter Showdown

And this is what he actually sounds like. Beatbox, overlays and hip-hop? Is that an Irish or a Jamaican accent in that rap? Well, we were massively impressed. So was the crowd – he was able to work up the entire courtyard. It was a short set, however, last less than 30 min. Ed Sheeran literally repeated that linked performance on youtube, live, plus orange mic. It feels a LOT longer than the 5 minutes clocked on youtube. Besides being impressed, however, I think I had an additional condition: I was confused. If I was thrice older and the adjective “massive” describes internal bleeding, I would… be dead? Get black poop for 3 straight days? Look like I had an episode of domestic elder-abuse? I don’t know – just like how I’m now confused when asked to blur the difference between hip-hop and Idol-type sugary love songs into one person. What’s my verdict? By all means check him out! Don’t be like us un-suspecting, naive, disconnected curmudgeons. Should you have teenage daughters, please take care not to stand between them and his concerts – you might end up like the wall in those cat-treats commercials.

Ed Sheeran, Cedar Street Courtyard Filter Showdown

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Posted on by Gary in Everything, Reviews, South By Southwest

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