Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Of Montreal @ Metro

Glitz and glamour take front stage at the Metro

Ask anyone who has seen Of Montreal perform in the last few years how the show was. I'm willing to bet the first response will have to do with what singer/leader Kevin Barnes was(n't) wearing and what he changed into midset. Or perhaps it will detail the various props and general pomp of the evening. Sadly, the actual performance of the music takes a back seat when discussing Of Montreal's sets, and more often than not it ends up in the trunk. But please don't take that to mean that the band played poorly or the amazingly well-crafted pop/electronic songs didn't translate well. I believe that if there was nary a prop or costume change in sight, it would have still been a great show. It's just that, well, there'd be no bloggers around the watercooler the next morning discussing set design and costume choice.

As an admitted watercooler blogger, I'll tell you of my two previous Of Montreal experiences. First, at a small venue in a small college town during the Sunlandic Twins tour, the band played a long and varied set, capping the night off with a weird 12-plus minute experimental jam featuring a heavily made-up Kevin Barnes on the drums. The show featured lot of spontaneity, save for two costume changes (a women's blouse and what I remember resembling a wedding dress). Second time was at the Metro, here in Chicago on the first Hissing Fauna tour. Enter the video screen, two more costume changes, a strange bit with a large lobster claw, and an entire song standing on a ladder draped in an enormous gown. The set was more focused this time but still contained enough old favorites to get the crowd jumping.

Sunday night, my third Of Montreal show, the Metro stage was decked out in a way that I had never seen: Two large platforms on either side, an even larger platform against the back supporting a walkway, all equipped with flashing columns of light, and the ever-present video screen all crowded the view. The band was literally dwarfed onstage as they trailblazed admirably through a relatively short set, mostly featuring songs from Hissing Fauna, including "Suffer for Fashion," "Gronlandic Edit," the 12-minute confessional freak-out "The Past is a Grotesque Animal," and crowd favorite "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse." They also treated the crowd to two new songs, one of which was called "Softcore."

All in all, it was a great set and a great time, but one has to think that at this rate, the glitz and the glamour will soon swallow them whole. I mean, just think of the wasted stage space that is presently being taken up by other band members! - B. Nanna

Phot by Craig Shimala