CoMusic Live Review: of Montreal at The Blue Note

If you buy a ticket for an of Montreal show, you probably know what you’re getting into. Last night, of Montreal brought their off-the-wall performance to The Blue Note. Throughout the night, the crowd was treated to dancing swine, dancing/fighting wrestlers, dancing skull beings, dancing sun gods… you get the picture. This might be my fourth time seeing of Montreal, and I still sometimes look at the stage with bewilderment. When the band first started accompanying their stage show with auxiliary dancers I was annoyed. I wanted to enjoy the music and ninjas running around the stage were more than a distraction. Years later the stage show has become even more absurd, yet I’ve learned to accept it as part of the of Montreal experience.

Of Montreal began the show with L’Age d’Or, a track of the newly released Thecontrollersphere ep. Much of the crowd seemed unfamiliar with the material, but danced along anyway. The crowd remained active throughout the night, despite a setlist that was heavy on newer tracks. In fact, not a single song was played off the band’s first seven LPs. They have long shunned their pre-Satanic Panic cuts, so perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise. In addition to tracks off Hissing Fauna, Skeletal Lamping, and False Priest, violinist K Ishibashi sang a mostly unintelligible rap titled “Just the Tip.” Drummer Clayton´╗┐ Rychlik also sang┬á jazz standard “My Funny Valentine” for “all the romantics.” These songs mostly served as filler while other band members changed costume, but were very entertaining in their own right.

Lead singer Kevin Barnes seemed strangely apathetic for much of the show. He rarely addressed the crowd and seemed to just be unhappy in general. His performance was spot on, however. The juxtaposition of Kevin with the rest of his smiling bandmates and the skit/dancing troupe was stark. He seemed to warm up later in the set, finally revealing a grin when two of the pig-humans on stage started grinding next to him.

The show ended with an epic WWF-style wrestling match, set to the tune of She’s a Rejector. Kevin disappeared backstage, only to return with a Lucha libre-style mask and participate in the showdown. The end result was wrestlers crowd-surfing, followed by America the Beautiful performed on violin, and of course, a hoe-down. Only at an of Montreal concert…

Yip Deceiver, of Montreal bassist Davey Pierce’s side project, was billed as the opener. Before they began, however, of Montreal violinist K Ishibashi played a short set of his own material. The extensive use of loop pedals makes comparisons to Andrew Bird unavoidable, but Ishibashi’s strong vocals and use of occasional use of a vocal modulation effect make him unique. Yip Deceiver took the stage as soon as Ishibashi finished and roared through a set of dance-able pop. I think the best description I heard last night was Passion Pit with ADD. Pierce hopped around the stage singing, only stopping to tweak one of the many synthesizers littering the stage. I will definitely be seeing them again whether paired with of Montreal or not.

Of Montreal bassist Davey Pierce performs with Yip Deceiver.

of Montreal Setlist

  1. L’age D’or
  2. Suffer for Fashion
  3. For Our Elegant Caste
  4. And I’ve Seen a Bloody Shadow
  5. Plastis Wafer
  6. St. Exquisite’s Confessions
  7. Just the Tip
  8. Famine Affair
  9. Holiday Call
  10. Slave Translator
  11. My Funny Valentine (Frank Sinatra)
  12. Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider
  13. Like a Tourist
  14. Coquet Coquette
  15. Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse
  16. Our Riotous Defects
  17. She’s a Rejecter

3 from thecontrollersphere ep, 4 from False Priest, 4 from Skeletal Lamping, 4 from Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, 1 unreleased, 1 cover

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