Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Nov. 21, 2008
Of MontrealFiesta Gardens, Nov. 13
Somewhere between dancing swine and accompanying Buddhas, the centaur drama and acid passion plays, not to mention frontman Kevin Barnes' hanging himself onstage, Of Montreal's bacchanalian baptism down by the riverside tripped the light fantastic. With a three-tiered stage and triptych of video screens hovering behind them, the Athens, Ga., sextet fulfilled its reputation as one of indie music's most dynamic live shows. Though the throng of fans outside the fenced patch of park stretched down the road as the set began and the corral to exit the makeshift venue was even more clustered, the unconventional setting provided the perfect kind of displaced paradise for the band's alternate reality, a spectacle of androgynous, orgiastic revelry that was part rave, part Bowie-esque art-pop hodgepodge. The relentlessly segued set launched appropriately with "Id Engager" and blasted through "So Begins Our Alabee" and "She's a Rejector," synapse frittering psychedelic jams blustered by dual drum kits and Barnes' shrill, glam falsetto ringing off the metal rafters. Dropping into latest LP Skeletal Lamping, piano ballad "Touched Something's Hollow" presented the only brief reprieve before sliding into the frantic "An Eluardian Instance" and ecstasy-laced bubblegum bounce of "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse." "Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games" erupted the masses behind a funky bassline, while the space-soul swirl of "St. Exquisite's Confessions" oozed Barnes' hypersexualized spite alongside crowd favorite "Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider." Live, Of Montreal is all spectacle, so as Barnes progressively shed his clothes (eventually being painted red onstage), surreality overtook night and culminated in his emergence from a coffin covered in shaving cream for the Pet Sounds-on-psilocybin romp of "A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger." Perhaps oddest of all was the one-song encore of Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out."