Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Of Monsters and Men

Julia Shapiro (of Chastity Belt)

6:30 pm doors, 8 pm show

$52 advance, $57 day of show

All ages welcome

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Of Monsters and Men

Of Monsters and Men

You think you know the Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men, but you have no idea. Within the first minute of their new single 'Alligator' you'll be wondering if this huge anthem is the brainchild of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs fronting Arcade Fire – all thumping drums, brimming guitars and a call-to- arms chorus about taking control. During a day of final mixing at the LA studio of their co-producer Rich Costey (MUSE, Vampire Weekend, Chvrches), the five-piece gather in stages. The first to walk in are joint vocalists/guitarists Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdóttir, Ragnar Þorhallsson and bassist Kristjan Pall Kristjansson. They're here to put the band's forthcoming third album 'FEVER DREAM' to bed. It's been in the offing for three years but – finally – it's soon to be out of their hands. Shortly behind them like a pair of mischievous school stragglers are the remaining members: drummer Arnar Rosenkranz Hilmarsson and youngest of the pack – guitarist Brynjar Leifsson.

To dub the story of this band a “fairytale” does a disservice to the amount of determination and grit it's required to get them to where they are in 2019. When reminded that it's almost ten years since the beginnings of the band (from the ashes of Nanna's solo project), they exclaim: “Jesus Christ!” The past decade has been a whirlwind completely beyond their collective imaginations. It started when a radio staton in Philadelphia – Radio 104.5 – began playing a demo of the song 'Little Talks' in 2011. OMAM were very freshly formed, but suddenly they were on the tip of every industry person's tongue. They signed with Republic, went to SXSW in a van and left in a fully- fledged tour bus. Their debut album – which by everyone's admission was essentially scrappily made in one weekend – followed swiftly, titled 'My Head Is An Animal'. It went multi-platinum. Thereafter the band toured, developing a live reputation all over in huge venues and at massive festivals. Their plaudits were on a par with rock bands three albums deeper.

The juggernaut didn't let up from there. After those explosive first years in which they toured relentlessly, conquered many festivals, wowed TV audiences most significantly with an SNL performance in May 2013, the band retreated to Iceland, their studio and their instruments to make a follow-up 'Beneath The Skin’. That second album catapulted them around the world even more, contributed to OMAM being the first Icelandic band ever to hit 1 billion streams on Spotify and even earned them a cameo appearance on season six of Game of Thrones in 2016. None of this, of course, is regrettable. And yet it hasn't been until recent months that the fivesome have really begun to realize that their trajectory has been relentless ever since 'Little Talks' – a mega hit that was never really intended to be the song. Everything up until 2017 had somewhat existed to serve that initial momentum. The past two years have allowed them to re-posture, re- group and step away from a reaction stance. They've learned not just who they are as musicians but how to fall in love with music again.

First, let's consider the music. There's a preconceived notion about the typical Of Monsters and Men sound: stadium folk flourishes, choruses of “hey! ho!”s and metaphors about extreme landscapes. But there has never been a typical Of Monsters and Men sound. Their back catalogue outside of their signature singles has showcased a diverse palette of balladry, danceable belters, and weirder synth moments. On their third album, that will be a fact too front and centre to ignore. They began working on it in the Spring of 2017, after they stopped touring in winter of 2016. It's the longest gestation period they've ever experienced while making an album.

“We immediately started to do it differently,” says Nanna of their process this time around. OMAM operate as a democracy. In the past that manifested as the five of them being in the rehearsal space, working on one idea until everyone had their own instrumental stamp on a song.

It was arduous, it was stressful and it was very difficult. This album has been hard work too: it's been a long winding road, and required a lot of patience. However, in so many respects it's the more satisfying version. The pressure within the democracy required a different type of

vulnerability among them. Rather than being forced to show themselves to one another on the spot in that previous rehearsal space, this time they all spent an extensive period apart, and each contributed ideas they'd produced at home on laptops. This was completely novel to them and a far vaster challenge.

At first there wasn't a clear-cut direction, just diverse ideas informed by five people with very different tastes. Ragnar, for instance, is always influenced by the staying power and sonic identity of a band like The National. Nanna, on the other hand, took her maverick inspirations from artists equally as integrity driven: Solange and Childish Gambino. “The driving force for this album was curiosity,” says Nanna. “Curiosity to do things in a new way – not using a guitar to write, finding something else that excites me.” Even Ragnar put down his guitar, no longer feeling like he needed to justify his presence in the band via one instrument. “I would play acoustic guitar on every fucking song on the album,” he says. “Now I have no idea what I'll be doing live, what instruments I'll be holding, or if I'll be holding any!” Nanna smiles. “We eliminated the roles we had in the band and not in a bad way. It's more open. It gives you more space to explore yourself as a musician.” It's grown the trust they have in one another too. “Having everyone's fingers in everything can flatten things,” says Ragnar. “If you mix every color together you just get brown.”

The songs themselves are certainly not brown. They're also not couched in one style. Arnar: “If one song wanted to be a full-blown 80s track, we'd allow it to be that. If another wanted to be a rock track we'd allow it to be that.” It is reflective of the landscape of big rock acts now too that genre has become less debilitating and doesn't stipulate that bands need to perform within a certain framework. “We've always been drawn to that,” nods Nanna. “When a lot of people hear our name they think of us as a folky acoustic band. We've never been one thing. These days, we feel free to go to extremes.” Brynjar agrees. “We wanted to explore everybody's palettes and do what we wanted to do: just try everything.”

Lyrically the album is more personal than ever, which makes sense when Nanna and Ragnar reveal that this is the first album they've written lyrics for apart from one another. In conversation it's hard for them to get too specific on details. “For me, they're about personal struggles.” The way Ragnar has written his lines has been inspired by gut emotions. He'll take a thought and run with it to its completion and no longer hides from his feelings. In the past they'd workshop lyrics as a joint exercise until they were masked enough to apply to everyone. For Nanna, her lyrics' meanings reveal themselves to her over time. “You sing something and you think it's gibberish, then weeks later listen and think it's the most spot-on thing you've ever said. This time we only came together at the end to help each other where we could.”

That co-counselling speaks volumes to their friendship, and the power of music within their most intimate dialogue. Despite the struggles, the band wanted the songs to contain more light and joy – a catharsis to push through the anxieties they're expressing. The way in which Nanna's voice relates that dialogue to the world is the most evolved of anything here. It's almost beyond recognition. Her voice growls like there's something between her teeth. It's a confidence thing, admits Nanna. “I'm at the point where I know what works for me and what I want.” 'Alligator' is the first indication of that.

“We could have just gone on for years and never made any decisions,” laughs Ragnar of doing these final stages with Costey. Of Monsters and Men are a band who are in it for the long haul and have taken the time to craft their sound, culture and universe. “We don't want to repeat what we've done,” says Nanna. “It's important for us to have a long career, make albums we're proud of and take our time.” It's a statement that's comfortably at odds with the fast-paced music scene of today. In the end it'll be all that matters. Most of all, the band are itching to get back out into the live arena – and to learn how to celebrate and let loose more. They bought an inflatable lifeboat years ago for Nanna to use for crowdsurfing. It never got used. “I would love to crowd-surf with the boat!” she exclaims at the reminder. Anchors aweigh, Of Monsters and Men are ready to set sail.

Julia Shapiro (of Chastity Belt)

Intimate indie rock

Julia Shapiro (of Chastity Belt)

When Julia Shapiro flew home from a cancelled Chastity Belt tour in April 2018, everything in her life felt out of control. Dealing with health issues, freshly out of a relationship and in the middle of an existential crisis, she realized halfway through a tour supporting her band’s third album I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone that she was going through too much to continue. “I was really struggling; I was really depressed. I felt like I couldn’t sing or be a person,” Shapiro recalls. “At that point I couldn’t even imagine playing a show again, I was so over it.”

Returning home to a newly empty Seattle one-bedroom apartment, Shapiro had wanted for a long time to learn how to record and mix her own music, and out of the uncertainty of the future of her music career and her health, she began to record the songs that would become Perfect Version, her solo debut for Hardly Art. What she created in the space of ten songs is an intimate and beautifully self-aware examination of feeling lost in the life you’ve created for yourself. It’s an album of shimmering guitars and layered vocals that feels vast in the emotional depth it conveys and masterful in the way each song is intentionally crafted and recorded.

Throughout the record Shapiro tries on different ways of living, all thematically centered around the idea of what it would be like to be a perfect version of yourself. “How can someone be so blindly confident/I wanna know that trick,” she wonders on “Natural,” the opening track that begins using another person as a mirror and then pans back to a bigger picture: what would it take to really love yourself? The album is peppered with ideas of what self-improvement could look like — whether it’s learning a skill and living out in the woods, going to bed at a reasonable hour, or even more playful, deeply relatable lines like “I should really delete my Instagram.”

Shapiro has a knack for turning simple images into something profound, drawing influence from songwriters like Elliott Smith to capture complicated moods. The everyday act of circling the block trying to find a parking spot becomes a metaphor for trying and feeling like you can’t quite get anything done. “All my problems feel like paper/I can finally rip them up,” she sings on the title track, describing a moment of lightness in hanging out with friends who can find humor in your failure “at least I have my friends to laugh at what I’ve done.”

Over the course of a tumultuous year of trying to find stability amidst depression and surgery, Shapiro ultimately rediscovered the parts of music that she loved through the process. Her perfectionist qualities create an album that shines in tiny lyrical moments and meticulous guitar parts. “When the rest of my life felt out of control, I felt like this was my chance to be in control of everything,” says Shapiro. She plays all the instruments (save for a mouth trumpet solo by Darren Hanlon and guest violin by Annie Truscott) and after recording and mixing the first batch of four songs at the Vault studio with Ian LeSage decided to record the final six tracks alone in her apartment, adding drums in the studio later and learning to mix them with the help of her friend David Hrivnak. Perfect Version is a fully-realized vision from a gifted songwriter finding a more intimate voice. “So what comes next?” she questions on the album closer “Empty Cup” which explores the quiet satisfaction of being alone with yourself and creating a blank slate. “A lasting sense of self,” she concludes.


The Crystal Ballroom

1332 W. Burnside
Portland OR 97209

(503) 225-0047
Contact us

Where On Any Night, Anything Can Happen!!

In these walls...

The historic Crystal Ballroom -- now over a century old -- is one of those rare concert halls that can point to a proud, diverse history while also laying claim to an ongoing musical legacy. Every time you enter this majestic ballroom, let your imagination sense the tremors resonating from a century's worth of gatherings, and realize that you are joining a thriving, generations-long procession of show-goers. Welcome!

Looking for your Crystal Ballroom Passport Stamps?

Crystal Ballroom, Lola’s Room & Crystal Brewery Tour occurs daily at 2 p.m. - meet at Ringlers Pub (street level below the Crystal Ballroom.) The tour takes about half an hour to complete. Any questions may be directed to the Crystal box office, 503-225-0047.

Stamps for the Crystal Ballroom and Lola’s Room are also available when you see a show – ticketed or free – in either venue.

Please note: Due to private events, concert setup needs and brewers’ schedules, not all spaces are guaranteed to be available to tour daily, but our staff will give it our best shot and show you the spaces that we can.

Tech Specs

Floor and stage plan
PDF download

Lighting diagram 
PDF download

Sound manifest
PDF download
Lola's Room: 
PDF download

Technical and logistical packet
For Crystal Ballroom & Lola's Room
PDF download

Ballroom height and beam-to-beam dimensions
16' 11" from beam to floor
19' 11" from floor to ceiling
14' 6" in between beams

Promoter Info

Rental Expenses To Outside Promoters

$365  PRODUCTION MANAGER ($54.75/hr OT)
$255  STAGE MANAGER ($38.32/hr OT)
$255  FOH TECHNICIAN ($38.32/hr OT)
$255  MONITOR ENGINEER ($38.32/hr OT)
$255  LIGHTING DIRECTOR ($38.32/hr OT)
$150  HOSPITALITY ($20/hr OT) [mileage is 33 cents per mile]
$1,000*  SECURITY ($100/hr OT)
$100  BOX OFFICE STAFF ($20/hr OT)
$ ----  CHAIR RENTAL ($2 per chair)
$ ----  BOX OFFICE CREDIT CARD FEE (3% of Box Credit Card Sales)

* Security cost is an estimate. Additional security may be required depending on the nature of the event. 

Overtime: All expenses incurred by the Crystal Ballroom for Catering, Advertising, requested stagehands, overtime (anything over 10 hours), backline, barricade, risers, etc. will be added to total rental rate.

Deposits: A non-refundable 50% room deposit and a $2,500 'untenured promoter fee' (UPF) is due immediately in order to secure the room. If ticket sales exceed 500 the 'UPF' will be refunded; if ticket sales are below 500 the room keeps the entire $2,500 to make up for less than 1/3 capacity and corresponding lack of sales. The 'UPF' will not be refunded if the event cancels within 60 days of the event.

Settlement: Venue will pay renter with a company check at the immediate conclusion of door sales. Venue will not provide any cash at settlement.

Late Night Fee: There is a $1,000/hour additional fee for any events after 3 a.m. We may also require additional security for events of that nature.

Merchandise: Merch rate is 20% they sell. We can provide a seller with advance notice and will keep 30% of sales. The outside promoter will receive no revenue from the merchandise as that is the prerogative of the house. House keeps a percentage of all transactions.

Tickets: All tickets must be placed through the venue onto the Cascade Tickets system. All comps, label buys, and holds must be approved by the venue. There is a $2/ticket venue fee at the Box Office.

Refunds: All refunds will be directed to the outside promoter. In the absence of an outside promoter representative, the venue shall use its own discretion regarding refunds and all refunds shall be deducted from settlement.

Insurance and Licenses: Renter must provide liability insurance not less than $1,000,000 for any single occurrence naming McMenamins Inc. d.b.a. Crystal Ballroom as additionally insured. Tickets will not be placed on sale until binder is received. Promoter is responsible for all ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC fees.

Production Advance: Performers or their representative must contact venue's production manager 5 days prior to the event in order to advance production needs, otherwise runner will arrive at 6 p.m. and all rider items/requests will be greatly limited if provided at all.

Layout: The Crystal Ballroom is located on the 3rd floor. The first floor is Ringlers Restaurant and the 2nd floor is Lola's Room, both of which may have a public or private event simultaneously with the Crystal.

Cancellation/Postponement: The contract covers the specified event for the specified date. No substitution will be accepted for a cancellation. If the event is postponed the room deposit will be transferred to the date of the new event but the $2,500 'UPF' will be applied toward the date of the originally scheduled show and an additional $2,500 will be required in order to reschedule.

Capacity: The venue's capacity is 1500*. All artist and promoter guests and comps will be deducted from sellable. Comp and guest space must be reserved in advance. House is entitled to 20 guests. House guests will not effect sellable. Promoter must have guest list to house no later than 2 hours prior to doors. VIP cap is 25.

* Seated capacity is 850. Seated shows must be 21 and over. There is a $2/chair rental fee.

Venue and corporate sponsor banners may be present during event.

Marketing your event at the Crystal Ballroom

Please contact Mike Walker for information about marketing your event through McMenamins resources.

Box Office

Please note! Both the Crystal Ballroom and Lola's Room specialize in open-floor shows with a very limited amount of seats. The rare seated events will be clearly denoted as such, within the event description on our schedule page.

Box Office Information

Tickets for all McMenamins shows are ticketed by Cascade Tickets, and may be purchased at the Crystal box office (located under the Crystal's awning) and McMenamins Edgefield, by phone at 1-855-CAS-TIXX, or by clicking the "Buy Tickets" link located at the event listing on our schedules.

Tickets bought directly at the Crystal box office or any of our four ticket outlets will only incur a $1 facility charge. (Please note! Tickets to Edgefield Concerts on the Lawn will incur additional service fees.)

Crystal Ballroom Box Office Hours 
Daily, 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The box office is open later on nights when there is a performance.

The box office accepts cash, VISA, MasterCard, American Express and DiscoverCard.

Will Call

Will call is located at the box office.


All ticket purchases are non-refundable.


There are three pay lots nearby, and street parking is available.


Those with disabilities may call (503 225 0047) or email in advance to arrange early admittance.

There is an elevator located in the lobby.

Hold your Private Event at Crystal Ballroom

Weddings  Meetings  Social Events

The Crystal Ballroom is a truly awe-inspiring venue with its vaulted ceilings, grand chandeliers, giant wallscapes and famous "floating" dance floor. Accommodating groups from 100 to 1000 people, this 7,500-square-foot space includes access to the Ballroom's classic corner stage, floor-to-ceiling windows, swooping balcony, and full bar service.

Tucked in the Crystal’s second story is Lola’s Room accommodating events of up to 200 guests.  Lola’s comes with a handsome fully stocked bar, original artwork, and a floating dance floor all it’s own.

For overnight accommodations, our Crystal Hotel is just a block away!

Contact our sales team to inquire or book your event.
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Artwork plays an important role in the character of McMenamins locations throughout Oregon and Washington. We believe art makes life richer and more enjoyable. So, you'll often find paintings covering our walls, ceilings doors, overhead pipes, and equipment -- works as diverse and entertaining as our places for family and friends. Many artists have contributed to this vast variety of delightful eye candy. Jump in and enjoy some now!




Explore the Crystal Blocks

Our Crystal Hotel and legendary Crystal Ballroom are just across the street from each other, each offering their own unique spaces for live music, Northwest style fare and McMenamins hand crafted beverages.  Explore these properties and all they have to offer. 

Crystal Ballroom Property

Crystal Ballroom  Lola's Room  Ringlers Pub  Crystal Brewery

Crystal Hotel Property

Crystal Hotel  Al's Den  Ringlers Annex  Zeus Cafe

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