That’s an insane picture. I got it from Of Montreal’s MySpace, from an album called ‘Of Montreal as mythology’. There were no other pictures in the album. I thought that it would be a reasonably good way to preface a review of a band I’ve talked about a million times before on this blog. Just click the ‘Of Montreal’ tag at the side to check them out…
Oh wait, I tag things in a completely senseless way, by venue and nationality. As if anyone ever wanted to check which Danish bands I’d seen or how many gigs I’ve been to in Crawdaddy since September 2007.
I turned up at the Button Factory alone and stood around, trying not to look awkward while people arrived. Nobody I recognised. A weird sort of in-betweener crowd: half were comfortable, beer in hand, waiting around the back to step up when a band appeared. The other half were excited, on edge, 80% female and at the front. I belonged at the back. But I went to the front. Sorry if you were a short girl and I was standing in front of you. I’ve put in the same fawning hours you have, get off my back.
Casio Kids played first and I was initially thinking, “wow, Unicorns!”. Then it all got a bit smoothed out in a sort of a Hot Chip vibe. But then, gradually, it became clear that Casio Kids are Scandanavian. A quick Google shows that they’re Norwegian, but I could not stop hearing Swedish bands once I realised they weren’t Anglo-American. The Shout Out Louds. Jens Lekman. Even fucking Dungen. It’s something about the inflection when they sing.
They passed the time, and I like that they sing in Norsk, but nothing to write home about.
If you were about to write home, however, and you needed something other than “things good here, hope all is well at home” to tell the people in the old country, you wouldn’t have had long to wait.
Enter Of Montreal. BP Helium in Eno-mode as in 2007 (rather than Low-era Bowie mode, as 2008, if I remember correctly). A tiger, a pig, a smattering of shadows, a diplodocus-headed gentlemen of some description, and a respectable family. And Kevin Barnes, character in his own postmodern fantasy. Much of the excitement of this show is in the insane, postmodern theatrics that go on, both behind Kevin and involving Kevin. An anthropomorphic tiger hunting to tense music is exactly that in this context – it’s not a song with a theatrical accompaniment.
But I suppose I should mention music. Minuses first:
– He’s not feeling the lyrics. But hey, who says every singer of their darker hours has to crucify themself on stage to satisfy me.
– As with every Of Montreal live show, the sheen is dulled a little in performance, and the backing tracks are always a touch busy… as if everything’s not in its right place. Although maybe that helps.
Well, as Damien Hirst knows well, if you’re just arranging diamonds, you’re going to end up with something pretty valuable no matter what you do. Of new material, ‘Triphallus to Punctuate’ was my favourite, as it is on record, because of its bizarrely disco-fried “ah yeah” part as much as anything else. Of old material, ‘Sink The Seine-Cato As A Pun’ was pretty stellar, as was Gronlandic Edit, and though there was nothing further back than Sunlandic Twins, ‘Wraith Pinned To The Mist’ waved that flag fairly well.
Just a good show then, right? Just an American band, bigger than small clubs but smaller than big theatres. Same setlist all tour, even if it synchs with performance art. Worth the entrance fee, definitely.
Kevin smears himself head to toe in shaving foam and leaps into the crowd. You see a hand flailing so you grab it to right him onto his feet and feel you’ve done your part. Go home happy.
“Do you think they will do an encore?” I heard an obviously largely housebound fellow attendee ask.
‘Suffer For Fashion’, immediately weighing in on a level above the entire regular set. ‘I Was Never Young’, holding the fort. Then (you know this already if you ever wanted to know, so there’s no point in suspense, especially in a textual medium where there is no temporal block on you) Smells Like Teen Spirit.
Which they apparently no longer issue the lyrics to at birth. But I bellowed them nonetheless. Leapt around and knocked the guy-protecting-girlfriend and the I-need-to-get-this-on-camera-phone and the lets-do-live-song-by-song-analysis people out of their comfort zones a little I hope.
It was great. Insane, but great. Five members and four actors on stage, blasting it out. Crowd giving it straight back. If you don’t have ’em, steal ’em. The encore, as usual with OM gigs, lifts the show and makes the whole thing seem that much more epic.
So fuck you, the everyone I know who went to the last one but didn’t go this time. This was great, even if I think I nearly killed myself sprinting up Dame Street for the last bus because of it.