by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
While last Saturday night’s Of Montreal concert was the usual spectacle that one expects from these colorful Athenians, it was only a medium-sized spectacle, especially compared to the last time they came through town and played at The Slowdown.
Your first thought might be that they pulled back because The Waiting Room has a smaller stage than The Slowdown’s cavernous maw, but you’d be wrong because I’ve been told the two stages are about the same size, and that TWR might actually be a tad larger. No, the real reason could have had something to do with the style of the band’s latest album, which is less of a party and more of a psychedelic head trip.
To help build that trippy buzz, Of Montreal’s eye-blazing projector-powered graphics got an extra punch of wow — pure acid-flashback dazzle combined with strange 8 mm-style film effects.
Theatrics did abound. Three “extras” made stage appearances in a variety of costumes, most resembling blobs or giant wadded up pieces of paper. When they weren’t stumbling around in bulky costumes, the extras slipped into place in white body stockings, unfolding umbrellas that reflected targeted projected graphics (see the eye-popping skull above).
And then there was the music. Of Montreal played their mega-hit “Wrath Pinned to the Mist and Other Games,” (a.k.a., the Outlook Steakhouse commercial jingle from a few years ago) in the middle of the set, surrounding it with new glammy material from Lousy with Sylvianbriar, their latest Polyvinyl release. If someone ever decides to make a David Bowie biopic, Kevin Barnes would be the shoe-in to play the Thin White Duke — his voice (at times) was a photo-realistic replica of Bowie’s, complete with the obvious, recognizable inflections we’ve come to know and love.
Beyond the Bowie comparisons, Barnes has a mammoth voice that keeps going and going, and is the clear centerpiece of the entire performance. Good thing, too, because while Of Montreal’s music often has a thumpin’ beat, it lacks a strong central melody. The reason “Wrath Pinned…” was a hit is because it’s one of the few songs they’ve written that invites you to sing along. The rest of Of Montreal’s melodies are two-dimensional gymnastics — dense, complex and sparkly — but forgettable. It’s the reason Of Montreal never broke through the way Arcade Fire has, though the two bands do very similar things (and one might argue, Of Montreal does it better).
But who cares when you see Barnes coming out after a costume change dressed as a 12-foot tall singing psychedelic ghost?
Opener La Luz was a fun exercise in genre rock, described to me by one listener as Middle Eastern-infused surf rock. To me they played traditional garage rock with a sinister undertone. Great stuff, in small doses.
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The big shows keep rolling on tonight:
Cold War Kids play tonight at The Slowdown with Crystal Antlers, whose latest, Nothing Is Real, is brash and loud and worth getting to the club early for. $20 9 p.m.
Meanwhile, over at The Waiting Room, chillwave superstar Toro Y Moi headlines with Classixx, a DJ duo who have remixed everyone from Phoenix to Yacht to Holy Ghost to Ladyhawke. $17, 9 p.m.
Why does it have to be Monday?
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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