My Musical Adventures

Of Montreal @ GAMH, 11/14/07

Let me preface this review by saying that, while I have heard great things about Of Montreal’s live performances, I have a hard time with their music. I had at least a half dozen false starts with Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer– as soon as I heard the words ‘suffer for fashion’ I had to turn it off. For some reason that phrase makes me want to bitch slap someone.

Why did I agree to go? Because I am a live music whore. I went on the assumption that I might love their live show, and still feel meh about their music. I’ve seen bands that fit into this category before (Ghostland Observatory, for instance).

So the theme of the evening was Weird and Weirder. The band that started off the night was MGMT, from Brooklyn. They actually sound like how I wanted Of Montreal to sound- nice lyrics, dreamy song compositions, but more serious and less theatrical. The lead singer wears a Japanese karate ensemble. The guys really look they are living off of couch change, so go by their album so they can eat and take a shower.

Next up was one of the more puzzling things I’ve seen in a while. Grand Buffet, from Pittsburgh, is definitely experimental hip hop. It’s kind of like a live action SNL Digital Short. They have songs like ‘Oh My God You’re Weird’, ‘MURDERFUCK’, and something about how cigarettes are cool. It’s 2 very energetic guys, one who beatboxes, one who wears a Kung Fu outfit. They had three static visual images on the video screen behind their set: first, there was what appeared to be a girl dressed as Ronald McDonald crouched in an alley getting ready to huff. Yeah….at least that was my interpretation. Hey, I’ve seen something similar in an alley here before. The second image was of Steve Martin. The last one was of Dave Navarro, which came up after a song ended with the line ‘Dave Navarro is the real living Jesus Christ’, or something to that effect. I’ll have to say, parts of the performance reeled me in, but it totally lost me in others.

Of Montreal has got some things down really well. They have a fantastic stage set up- the multi tiered thing really makes good use of the space, especially when you are in a theater with a balcony. Each member has a very distinct style- the guitarist looks like he was plucked from a band in Dick Tracy, the keyboardist has an eighties monochromatic-with-a-splash-of-contrasting-color thing going on, and even the stage hands had their own looks going. Then, of course, there is the iconic makeup of the lead singer, Kevin Barnes, that is mimicked by many in the crowd, coupled with his Cher-like costume changes. On this particular night, he wore a nice tailored suit at first, and then changed into a Christina Hagulerra-era style denim print romper, blue fishnet thigh highs, a sequined red belt, and blue slouch boots. Yep, you read that right. It was visually interesting, but was kind of distracting. I started thinking about Hedwig and the Angry Inch and how I wanted to see it again. There are some crazy Of Montreal fans out there- there were puppets in the crowd, which I was unaware of the significance of, feathers, and boys in dresses. When I saw the boys in dresses, it reminded me of Kurt Cobain, and how this was very much not in the same vein as that. Redeeming part of the evening: the regular set opened and closed with Prince- I Would Die 4 You and Purple Rain. I thought the Prince police might show up though- isn’t he not allowing covers of his songs anymore, either?

Perhaps this is all too esoteric for me. When I realized this, I became paranoid that something must be really wrong with me if I feel like I understand Manson, GWAR, and Slipknot…but have a hard time getting this.

Oh well. I can’t love them all.

Purple Rain


    Great recap… I felt the same way about Of Montreal when the did their 3-night stint last time around. I really wanted to like the show but had a really hard connecting… and I actually enjoy their studio recordings. Barnes wore a red-latex/leather getup under a lace poof skirt and long white trench coat… oh.. and pearls. no costume changes.. but he did remove an article of clothing after every song until he was wearing nothing but tight leather shorts and pearls…

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