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March 9, 2009 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Of Montreal

San Francisco Bathhouse, 26/02/09

The first time I heard Of Montreal was in snowy Ohio, four years ago. This awful girl put on ‘Wraith Pinned to the Mist & Other Games’ and all it took was the intro—melodic bassline, topped with salt shaker beats—to hook me like a flopping fish on the end of a line. The addition of “let’s pretend we don’t exist” lyrics didn’t hurt either, especially when I found out that my boyfriend of two weeks had cheated on me with the bitch! I certainly wanted to pretend I was in Antarctica, but instead I settled for the audio transportation Of Montreal, the only band at the time that could pull me away from Elliot Smith. No mean feat.

This introduction to Of Montreal feels fitting, as their lyrical dance disco does, oddly enough, have strongly melancholic undertones. Its silver lining in cloudy pop territory, where chirpy beats are the background for Kevin Barnes’ morose falsetto. This sort of paradoxical happy sadness appealed to me more at 17 than it does now, but I was still pretty thrilled to find out they would be playing a show at San Fran. Bought my ticket three months in advance kind of thrilled.

And oh, what a show! Barnes walked on stage to what had turned into a cheering mass of Wellington Love. He was clad in an orange kimono, sparkly blue eyes (literally: aquamarine glitter rounded his eyes in dramatic circles) peering sadly into the audience before his fabulous voice whipped the crowd into a churning mass of boogie.

That’s right, I said it: fabulous. Pretty much everything about Barnes is fab, from his furry white guitar strap to his stage name: Georgie Fruit, who just so happens to be a black she-male. I’m not sure whether I was watching Barnes or Fruit, but either way it was wholly enjoyable. Still, he looked a little sad.

Sad even when his band played as a fantastically tight ensemble, something I wasn’t expecting given the complex electronic arrangements contained in their albums. In fact, I was surprised at how similar the sound on stage was to the sound on CD. Maybe even a little disappointed; while recognition is enjoyable, I guess I wanted something different, something I couldn’t get just from listening to Of Montreal while walking down the street, or eating toast, or writing this review. Of course, there is the stage show.

See, Of Montreal are renowned for their stage antics, not so much in the crowd surfing screaming kind of way, more in the crazy costume, or occasional nudity sort (my favourite kind). Highlights of this show included a man taking off mask after mask, until about seven in total had been removed. How did he breathe? I’ll never know. But the true genius was when a man in a lycra leotard started rubbing his crotchal region, before pulling out piece after piece of fruit. He ate half of each sensually before throwing the other half to the crowd. First peach, then orange, then banana. After the show I talked to a friend who was lucky enough to catch the end of the banana. He ate it.

“How was it?” I asked

“Ripe and delicious,” he said.

Just like you, Of Montreal. Just like you.


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  1. Somesong says:

    Elliott has two ts.
    I’m excited to see that someone likes him as much as I do.
    And OfMontreal were amazing.

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