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Of Montreal at Alabama Music Box Recap

26 Dec 2012

written by Croma

Of Montreal at Alabama Music Box Recap

Of Montreal

at Alabama Music Box 12/01/12

by Timothy Borland

 

When attending an Of Montreal show, prepare for the unexpected. The music is so intoxicatingly androgynous that by the end of the night people might find themselves wandering into the wrong restroom at a bar. This night Of Montreal was in full force playing a long setlist of seventeen songs that came close to matching the length of their Soul Kitchen appearance in 2011.

Lead singer Kevin Barnes burst onto the box stage clad in a plaid frock with cutoff jean shorts and shoulder jaw length hair parted conspicuously to one side. Perhaps having one side of his face framed by long feminine hair while the other side of his face revealed more masculine features was an effort to express the gender duality of the singer himself.

Meanwhile Bryan Poole, aka B.P. Helium, was decked out in an outfit Elton John would have been proud of. The band’s guitarist wore an all white sequined outfit complete with a shimmering cape and a rainbow afro. Poole’s stage energy was contagious as he bounced around in front of drummer Clayton Rychlik.

Dottie Alexander was perhaps the most reserved clothing-wise. Her lack of gaudiness was more than made up for with psychedelic organ chords washed in chorus and delay effects more commonly associated with guitar gods.

The setlist included a variety of songs culled from Of Montreal’s extensive catalog. The concert began with “Requiem for O.M.M.2” from the melodic favorite The Sunlandic Twins. Another album referenced was Skeletal Lamping with the songs “Plastis Wafers,” “Women’s Studies Victims,” and “St. Exquisite’s Confessions.”

The only selections performed from the new release Daughter of Cloud were “Georgie’s Lament” and a particularly well received “Sails, Hermaphroditic.” The latter featured Barnes’s trademark falsetto wails along with the instantly memorable chorus “…I would change the shit out of you.”

The album False Priest was strongly represented by extended takes on “Hydra Fancies,” “You Do Mutilate?,” “Godly Intersex,” and “Enemy Gene.”  This decision should come as no surprise considering that the aforementioned current single “Sail Hermaphroditic” was a B-side from the original False Priest recording sessions.

The band’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? was also heavily relied upon. This landmark album provided the majority of the set, with a total of six songs represented, including “Cato as Pun,” “Gronlandic Edit,” and “A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger.” The entire encore consisted of a trifecta of songs in the form of “Suffer for Fashion,” “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse,” and “She’s a Rejector.”

The stage antics contributed greatly to the already ambiguous nature of the sonic experimentation by the musicians. Rainbow patterns projected onto the stage made the band members themselves explode with color. Various screens were placed around the stage upon which various psychedelic patterns and shapes dissolved into sickeningly sweet candy colors reminiscent of 1970’s era wallpaper.

Of Montreal has always been a combination of aural and visual arts. Anonymous masked cabaret performers present odd illusions for the audience to consider during Of Montreal’s live performance. Midway through the concert the cabaret performers appeared within the confines of a large amoeba-like fabric womb. The white fabric was stretched and distorted by the hands from the performers inside, giving the impression of some alien creatures attempting to burst free.

Towards the climax of the show a strange apparition manifested on stage. Atop this ballooning figure was a cheerful, but ominous sugar skull, projecting mortality upon the audience. As if to counteract any negative vibes produced by the skull, a happy female sun image was projected across the belly of the parachute-like material. The sun changed shapes and colors as the sideshow character circled amongst the musicians.

To cap off a performance that was never dull, air canons blasted feathers into the dancing crowd of screaming fans. The walls and floors of the Alabama Music Box were thoroughly coated with this fuzzy ammunition by the time the last few chords sounded from the stage. As the crowd spilled out onto the streets, they proudly wore the feathers as badges of honor that signaled to others at the bars on Dauphin Street that their night was far more interesting. Needless to say, Mobilians will eagerly anticipate the announcement of a future performance from Of Montreal in the Port City.

FAN video (low-Q):


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