Of Montreal @ the Madison Theater 9.21.10

The last time I saw Of Montreal, I credited them with delivering what was for them a very stripped-down, simple show. This time I’ve got to laud them for doing the exact opposite. Of Montreal’s False Priest tour is far and away the most intricate, unbelievable show I’ve ever seen a band put together.

MP3: Of Montreal – Coquet Coquette

I’ve got to say that one of my least favorite things about writing about an Of Montreal show is knowing that I’ll eventually have to recap all the crazy things I saw. Part of me feels like these photos show you what happened, so why bother reporting on it? But another part says that these photos show things that make no sense without context (and then also continue to make very little sense). So I’ll do what I normally do: comment on what I found interesting and fantastic.

There was one moment in Of Montreal’s show where, after accidentally seducing a person dressed up as a lady pig away from her man pig lover, Kevin Barnes sang a song while acting out having sex with the lady pig as her boyfriend looks on in despair. At that point I asked myself “is he really pretending to hump that pig on stage?” — followed shortly by the equally sensible question “Is that really that unusual for an Of Montreal show?” After all the crazy things I’ve seen at their shows, that was really only a little more odd than normal.

Easily the best moment of the show was when Kevin left the stage and the helpers rolled out a large video screen, decorated to make it look like an old vintage TV. Then once the “skull kids” sat around it like you might for Saturday morning cartoons, it clicked on, showing a live feed of Kevin playing a piano cover of Sibylle Baier’s “Tonight” in the backstage area. I’d never seen anything like it at a show before and absolutely loved it. It was practical (for the stage show), it was beautiful and it made a packed show feel deeply intimate.

Lots more photos after the break

Maybe the best thing about the Of Montreal/Janelle Monae tour is that it might be the thing that finally makes Kevin seem more confident on stage. He never seems nervous or hesitant, but he’s not always the most energetic performer. And any time Janelle came on stage — as she did for “Enemy Gene — it was like someone gave Kevin a quick shot to the arm. It’s not really that surprising, though; she’s his friend, a musical peer and one of the funkiest dancers I’ve seen — who wouldn’t want to bring their A-game around her?

Here’s a giant ‘duh’ for you: I love covers. Love ’em. That’s why I have areas of the site dedicated to them. And maybe it was because the surprise had long been ruined, but the Of Montreal/Janelle Monae Michael Jackson tribute medley only seemed about 3/4 as awesome as it should have been in theory. I think part of it was that it sounded/felt too much like karaoke and was just a little bit too slick for its own good. When you’re covering Michael Jackson, I want to see your bass player out in front, making a scene. I have to say that the dance-off between Kevin and Janelle’s band was pretty great, though. And judging from the crowd reaction, I’m the only person who wasn’t 110% satisfied with the MJ covers.

So what’s my overall take on this show? Well, it’s the first time in a while that I haven’t mourned the non-inclusion of old material (possibly because playing songs from The Sunlandic Twins now feels like “old stuff”), which is a good sign for both them and me. They made some fairly radical changes to their stage set-up and the vast majority of them paid off really well. So really, I’d say that they’re continuing on up. I left the show the same way I leave most of their shows: thinking “good God, what’s next? What can they do to top tonight?” And I don’t know. But luckily it seems like Kevin does.

4 thoughts on “Of Montreal @ the Madison Theater 9.21.10”

  1. Oh.My.God.

    That looks incredible.
    And I love the way you don’t even mention the giant orange-yellow thing Kevin is riding. For any other show that would be the main shocker – for of Montreal it’s the norm. Haha

  2. The tour came through Milwaukee on Friday. This was THE best show I’ve ever seen. It took 16 years for someone to knock Shudder to Think / Sunny Day Real Estate / Brainiac off as my #1 all-time favorite show, but Kevin & Janelle & co. did it with gusto.

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