4/15/09: Of Montreal @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (83/100)

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This Outback commercial ruined Of Montreal for me for a couple years, not gonna lie. I saw it as the ultimate sell out. A band I always knew as doing their own thing, giving in to a fake Australian restaurant chain. It almost made want to boycott the Blooming Onion forever – almost. Those colossal calorie kingdoms are just too good to turn my back on for an eternity. Delicious sons of bitches…

But time heals all wounds I guess, because I’m over it. So they sold out. So what. So did Bob Dylan, and Wilco, and just about every other band or musician I admire. But the artists didn’t change. They didn’t start writing songs so they could get them into commercials. In fact, in the Of Montreal’s case, quite the opposite. Their music is even more fucked up and abstract now.

So I walked into tonight’s show at Music Hall of Williamsburg waving a white flag, and anxious for a the live freak show that is Of Montreal. And what a freak show it is. Last time I saw them was at Bowery several years ago. At that show, lead singer Kevin Barnes walked on stage in a full white wedding dress. My friend Lauren told me the first time she saw them he entered the stage on a white horse. So long as he didn’t walk out dressed as a Blooming Onion (a kangaroo would’ve been ok), it should be a good show.

I went to the show with my friend Josh, co-worker Olivia and her friends Dana and Bronwen. And we all waited anxiously to see what tricks Kevin and the band had up their sleeves. The crowd was get anxious themselves, chanting for the band to get this whacked out party started. But nothing as crazy happened. Instead, tonight’s madness came from the visuals playing on huge screens behind them, and the cast of actors dressed as different animals, religious figures, ninjas, etc that came out on the stage and acted out…um…skits? Not really. That would be giving them too much credit for having a script or concept. I turned to my friend Josh at one point and said, “I don’t get it.” And he replied, “I don’t think there’s anything to get.” Good point.

It didn’t matter much to me whether I “got” what was going on. It was fascinating, intriguing, bizarre and really fun to look at. Kevin was dressed in his usual flamboyance, but the guitar player had him beat tonight with feathers sprouting off him like a peacock. Like this:

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Simply put, an Of Montreal show is unlike any other show you’ll see. I saw a couple security guys look at each other at one point, with looks of utter confusion on their faces. Like, “How the? What the? Who the?” But that’s just it. You should ask these questions, or at least you be thinking them, because that’s the point. They are a freak show, and that’s what makes them great.

That’s not to detract from the music, which I have to admit lost me a bit during my “Of Montreal is on my shit list” period. But they’re still a great band. Original to the core. It’s like seeing Bowie, Prince, Meatloaf, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Rocky Horror Picture show on acid. I’ve never taken acid (I promise, Mom), but I imagine this is what it would be like. Or what the flashbacks would be like. Or something. I mean, I’ve had fucked up, bizarre dreams that make more sense than what I was looking at.

There were Catholic cardinals dressed in red robes with actual cardinal beaks. A woman walking around on all fours with a 3-year old girl riding on her. Ninjas with glittered red faces. Dudes dressed like Buddha. Guys in weird gold masks. People dressed like pigs, and guy in a white suit and tiger mask…and so on.

But that’s the beauty of Of Montreal. I couldn’t see them every day. I couldn’t see them anytime. But I am glad I saw them during this 100 days, if no other reason than to be the wild card, fucked up, weirdest freak show of all the shows.

Of Montreal. That title most certainly belongs to you. You earned it

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