Sunday @ Lollapalooza: Of Monsters and Men, Amadou & Mariam

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BY ANDERS SMITH LINDALL For the Sun-Times

This year’s Lollapalooza offered almost no Latin music and failed to use its foothold in Chile and Brazil to book more than one act from those pop-loving countries (O Rappa performed early Friday). But a block of gigs Sunday offered the chance to see a few foreign acts whose stateside tours are infrequent.

Although Iceland may not medal at the Summer Olympics, the little North Atlantic nation took honors in Grant Park today. Sigur Ros played a pristine orchestral set that Thomas Conner touched on here; call me corny, but it gave me goosebumps more than once. Or maybe that was just the iced coffee.

Fellow Icelanders Of Monsters and Men played a bit later. Co-leaders Nanna Hilmarsdottir and Ragnar Thorhallsson plied guitars and swapped vocals while their mates stacked harmonies and filled in the spaces with piano, percussion, trumpet and accordion. Far removed from Sigur Ros’s elfin weirdness, Of Monsters and Men played energetic, textured and appealing folk-pop akin to English acts like Noah & the Whale and Laura Marling, or closer to home, Arcade Fire.

At the Petrillo bandshell, the veteran Afropop duo Amadou & Mariam turned in the sort of flawlessly effervescent set we’ve come to expect from their past Chicago performances–at Lollapalooza, in Millennium Park and elsewhere. The velvet-voiced Mariam Doumbia did most of the singing, while her husband, the masterful guitarist Amadou Bagayoko, made his instrument twinkle, chatter, swagger and cry on songs from “Folila” (2011), which featured Americans like TV on the Radio, to “Wati” (2002), the pair’s last album prior to their profile exploding in the West.

It’s regrettable that the assembled crowd didn’t appear to number more than 1,000–a pittance of what the glorified Springsteen tribute band the Gaslight Anthem pulled at the adjacent stage–but to tell from the relentless dancing and rhythmic clapping of fans familiar and converted, each one left fulfilled.

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