Thumbnail image for ofmontreal1.jpg
Of Montreal

Wednesday, May 11

Showbox at the Market

In live music, a "show" isn't what it seems. Rather than a theatrical production, the word

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Of Montreal Helps Showbox Live Up to Its Name, Last Night

Thumbnail image for ofmontreal1.jpg
Of Montreal

Wednesday, May 11

Showbox at the Market

In live music, a "show" isn't what it seems. Rather than a theatrical production, the word has come to denote a bunch of dudes playing instruments on a stage. But for of Montreal, a show means a show: the Athens, Ga., band brings a healthy dose of spectacle to every live performance, and the theatricality of Kevin Barnes and co. was on full display last night at Showbox at the Market.

Openers Beat Connection and Painted Palms started the evening with two very different takes on electronic music. Live, Beat Connection's Balearic electropop sounded distinctly house-influenced, and drew an enthusiastic response from the hometown crowd. Painted Palms' brand of hazy, mildly danceable synth-rock didn't seem to excite the masses to the same degree, though the chillwaves emanating from the speakers were augmented by footage of some chill waves projected behind the band as they played.

It could be argued that of Montreal hasn't made a good album since 2007's Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer, but that hardly matters when the band takes the stage. Last night, their performance was accompanied (and at times overshadowed) by everything else: actors, backup dancers, confetti, streamers, and a giant projection screen at the back of the stage that alternated between esoteric psychedelia and manipulated real-time footage of the band as they played.

That's not to say that the music was lost in the shuffle. Of Montreal's hybrid of pop, glam, funk, and dance-rock sounded fleshed-out and unbelievably tight. Singer/guitarist Kevin Barnes deftly led his group through a set that included old favorites ("Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse" and "Suffer for Fashion") as well as some material from their recent thecontrollersphere EP. After a two-song encore, the band crowd-surfed one by one, retaking the stage for a bow after a rousing violin performance of "America the Beautiful." Somehow, this ending seemed neither out of place nor surprising.

Barnes happens to be one of the more energetic, self-assured frontmen in indie rock, but he isn't particularly talkative--outside of the usual "Hello Seattle" and "This is our last song," he scarcely spoke to the audience. But in a way, Barnes' silence made sense--with of Montreal, the spectacle speaks for itself.

Reporter's notebook

The crowd: Young, with lots of glitter.

BTW: Most of the crowd was already on hand for Beat Connection's opening set, and they were eating it up. That's the definition of a young band on the rise.

Random notebook dump: Barnes had no less than three costume changes over the course of the set. Now that's a spectacle.

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