Story by Jamie Baird
Sunday night’s Of Montreal show at the Pabst Theater was the first time I had seen the band in eight years, since attending a show at a dive bar in Lawrence, Kansas. Touring as Of Montreal and Marshmellow Coast, the lyrical whimsy and play-acting was in full force, though more grade school-esque and DIY.
I had no idea how popular they had become. The packed house for this show was delightfully varied amongst age and lifestyle, and a large population formed up front to dance and catch every detail of the carnival on stage. Kevin Barnes is a truly a born performer – whether playing guitar, drums, dancing, screaming, preening or stripping; vocal control and instrumentation was executed as effortlessly as breathing.
Smart numbers like “Gallery Piece” and old favorites like “Gronlandic Edit,” “She’s A Rejector” and “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” kept the show pumped with constant, sexy and buoyant energy (although I can’t hear “Wraith” any more without wanting an Outback steak!) A few too many slow psych-jams that didn’t translate well to stage almost lost me as an enthralled witness. The closing cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was brutal and I’d love to see more rawness like that in the main set.
A constant barrage of video, monitor cameras and constumed performers populated almost every song, showing a nice balance of fun home videos and cartoons that featured the artwork of David Barnes and Nina Barnes, which made for interesting, beautiful and relevant enhancements to the show. Other play-pieces throughout the show were more distracting and bizarre than welcome. For any shortcomings perceived, Of Montreal delivered a tight, professional and fun party that looked spontaneous and crazy, and left more than a few minds blown, I’m sure.