So I was finally able to see Of Montreal in person. After hearing so many incredible stories and trying several times unsuccessfully to see them, I was determined to attend this time. May 2011 finds the entourage still touring and promoting last year’s record False Priest. And although I had anticipated seeing this band live for the past couple years, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Could their live performance really be as dazzling as I had heard, or would they just be that band with the Outback commercial song?
Seeing and hearing the band live proved to be much more impactful than just listening to their discography. I had a hunch I could expect costumes, and could easily have won that bet. There was also makeup, masks, costume changes, and yes even elaborate characters on stage with ginormous fake breasts. To be sure, the setup was grandiose, overwhelming, and indeed even spellbinding. With about a dozen different people on stage, the concert was a marvelous, mesmerizing, and extravagant experience. There were wings, wrestlers, and skull masks. The imagery and visuals displayed in the background was as trippy as the music itself, and almost seemed as if the artists also had the dual role of being shaman for the evening.
To me the group sounded like a sort of neo-psychedelic, cosmic blending together of both bands in the movie Dig, The Dandy Warhols and Brian Jonestown Massacre. Trying to confine or define what Of Montreal sound like though is comparable to trying to describe or capture a UFO: an elusive effort in futility. Try to imagine a place where Prince meets Blind Melon meets The Polyphonic Spree. They opened the set with “L’age D’or”, then closed with “For Our Elegant Caste”, before an encore.
Of Montreal not only lived up to my expectations, but far surpassed them. One can’t accurately predict what will happen seeing them live, proven a few years ago when lead front man Kevin Barnes performed with full frontal nudity. And despite the pop-psychedelic vibe, their reputation for spontaneity and unpredictability precedes them, and is the true essence of rock.