In a performance that featured psychedelic animal costumes, colorful projections, and several wardrobe transitions by lead singer Kevin Barnes, Of Montreal brought unparalleled energy to the Cedar Cultural Center last night.
Since the band’s beginning in 1996, Barnes, the only remaining original member of the band, has always strived to push the boundaries of both genre and gender. Since their early works, such as 1999’s The Gay Parade, Of Montreal have always represented the LGBT+ community in a proud, open, and artful manner.
As the audience filed in gradually, coming in from one of Minnesota’s classic springtime snowstorms, Seattle-based openers Mega Bog quietly took the stage. Despite being much calmer than what was to come, the jazzy indie-pop group, featuring Erin Birgy on vocals, warmed the crowd up expertly. Toward the end of their set, Birgy mentioned, “if you want a copy of our record, we only have one left with us. I’ll be waiting at the merch table until it’s gone.” It was not surprising to hear that they’ve been having as hard time keeping their merchandise in stock on the tour.
Of Montreal are currently on tour in support of their newest album White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood. 15 albums in, they still want to keep the sound fresh, Barnes mentioned in interviews about the release that the new album was inspired by long-structured dance songs from the 1980s, a departure from their original sound, which was more influenced by pop music of the 1960s. The new project made up the core of the band’s performance last night, playing the majority of the album throughout the set.
Hopefully there were some up-and-coming musicians at the show taking notes, because the way Of Montreal kept the audience on their toes raises the bar for any other musical performance. The visuals were hypnotic, as was the musical range, with dramatic songs from Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? being performed alongside upbeat selections from Skeletal Lamping.
Barnes kept banter to a minimum, but provided plenty of sartorial variety with his changing colorful outfits. The band had a creative crew of dancers who also had a number of eccentric costumes, including a dolphin, horses, ape-looking things, dragons, and a devil. All of these antics, though, never detracted from Barnes’s commanding stage presence.
Behind all of the flashing lights and entrancing cat graphics, the band’s songs shone through. Themes of gender expression, sexual-orientation freedom, relationships, feminism, and romance seemed to resonate with the excited Minneapolis audience. There wasn’t a moment worth missing, from the beginning of the night to the end of “Let’s Relate.”
If you missed the unforgettable show, it is likely that you won’t have to wait too long for the band’s return. They are very prolific, tending to release new music and tour almost yearly.
Paranoiac Intervals/Body Dysmorphia
Writing the Circles/Orgone Tropics
Wraith Pinned to the Mist (And Other Games)
Sophie Calle Private Game/Every Person is a Pussy, Every Pussy is a Star!
It’s Different for Girls
Plateau Phase/No Careerism No Corruption
Come Wander with Me (Bonnie Beecher cover)
Soft Music/Juno Portraits of the Jovian Sky
For Our Elegant Caste
Touched Something’s Hollow
An Eluardian Instance
A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger
Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider