Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Concert Review: Of Montreal at the Venue

Posted By on May 10, 2011, 4:00 AM

Anthropomorphic pigs, luchadors, giant, glittering mothmen and a trippy lightshow bathing everyone in color: bad acid trip? Or a great show?---

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, dear reader, the answer is the latter. CW won’t let me blog about my bad acid trips (yet!).

There were many, many pleasant surprises at the Venue last night. The underage crowd outnumbered the 21-plus set (meaning there were actual spots on the balcony- score!). The openers were great. Palace of Buddies is a well-known local rock duo and I only caught the end of their set, but I’ll be making more of an effort next time I hear they’re playing.

Painted Palms, who I’d never even heard of before, was a clearly beloved by the young ‘uns, judging by the gleeful shrieking that ushered them on stage. Five very hip young men playing spacey, simple melodies covered in a math-rocky candy coating: What more could you ask for?

Well, you could ask for of Montreal. And you would be asking a lot. But, oh, what you would receive: glitter and costumes and the astoundingly sexy god of art-rock, Kevin Barnes. The kiddies’ screaming was nothing compared to the giddy madness ignited by Barnes and the other members of of Montreal taking the stage and launching into “L’age D’or” from this year’s thecontrollersphere, then rapidly moving to “Suffer for Fashion” from Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (2007). The set generally followed in this vein, mixing old and new songs with a healthy dose of covers along the way. I will never hear “My Funny Valentine” the same way again.

Of Montreal shows are a unique experience. No two shows are the same, even when playing consecutive dates in the same city (I know this from experience). Since I caught them on their tour for Hissing Fauna, their loopy theatrics have grown to a grandiose, glitzy and gay proportions. I’m using “Gay” in the classic sense, but also “gay” in the mid-show satire on anti-gay activists. Standing over Barnes as he performed “Gronlandic Edit” (another gem off Fauna), angry protesters waved signs informing us that God made rainbows gay, but not gay, among other things. By then end of the song, the signs were flipped to reveal gay-support messages. Georgie Fruit would be proud.

This act was actually one of the less elaborate. Lovely Lady America (resplendent in patriotic sequins, of course) was saved from certain death and a scary guy with a skull for a face. Tall blondes of indeterminate sex strutted for the crowd. I was shocked by what Barnes was wearing at first- shiny red pants, a t-shirt and vest seemed a bit understated for man I once saw wear a tiny paper kimono to a bar. But, true to form, this eventually became what I can only describe as a sort of neon page-boy costume. Not that it matters much: Often, the whole band was bathed in colorful patterns of light. Giant, shiny moths encased Barnes in their giant, gleaming wings. And yes, some pig-people got a little rowdy on stage.

And the music? Oh right, the music. There are so, so many gems from of Montreal, many of which are fast, catchy and sexually charged, which make a great show even without the epic battles and dirty pigs. Hits like “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” and “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” are all fan favorites and I was happy to see them played. The newer “Slave Translator” and “For Our Elegant Caste” were wild and welcome. For the encore, my companion and I left the rarified air of the upper balcony and joined the crazy mass of all-ages dancing on the floor. We were sent off into the night with a sexy “St. Exquisite’s Confessions,” the deliciously violent “She’s a Rejector” and a violin rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

I could go on and on. I won’t, but you might want to check out this website for shots of their show in D.C. earlier this month. Again, no two shows are the same, but this should either give you sense of what you missed. If you went, it might allow you to relive the glory briefly, until you realize it’s just a pale shadow of the show and you start hoping of Montreal comes back again. You’ve already gotten them twice in less than a year, you lucky people. I guess a third time wouldn’t be out of the question. But only if you’re good.

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