Of Montreal @ The Electric Factory

Most indie rock fans and critics agree on one thing: Kevin Barnes has lost his fucking mind. He has transformed himself into the lovechild of David Bowie and Prince. The problem is that some embrace the path he has chosen to move in (heavy on the dance and soul with stage persona Georgie Fruit, a black transvestite), while others long for the days of Cherry Peel (acoustic, lo-fi diddies). Although I appreciate both phases of Barnes musical career, I must admit the new Barnes has made a much bigger fan out of me. And, for the record, I do think he’s more talented than both Bowie and Prince. I love Bowie, but his most recent solo tour is marred at the bottom of my list (and my list is long) as painfully boring. Of Montreal is currently on tour supporting their dance-heavy, sex-oriented ninth studio album, Skeletal Lamping. I was lucky enough to score tickets for the Electric Factory in Philly on Halloween!

Several web sites have posted pictures of shows from this tour. And the extravagant stage production really peaked my interest. There was no excuse for a live show performed by the band of one of our favorite albums of the year to come and go without our attention. For the most part, the excitement of Skeletal Lamping transferred well to the stage. However, the sound at the Electric Factory is as bad as it gets and has been almost inaudible during many shows I’ve attended there. This night was no different. The opening band, Gang Gang Dance was mixed as poorly as I’ve ever heard. From what I did hear, I enjoyed their tribal dance arrangements. I did feel bad for singer Liz Bougatsos who’s experimental chanting vocals were completely drowned out by the venue.

Of Montreal took the stage about 30-45 minutes after Gang Gang Dance’s set. The crowd responded well to the dimming lights, as the band members took the stage wearing superman costumes. Barnes was the last to enter, as he was escorted onto stage Egyptian style, within a small carriage covered by curtains and lifted by several of his “slaves.” To the crowd’s surprise (and delight) Barnes crawled out also dressed in Superman attire, although his suit contained (fake) muscles. Even before he exited his royal carriage, the opening howls of the band’s latest single, “Id Engager,” could be heard. The crowd immediately recognized the track, and all hell broke loose.

The show, much like Skeletal Lamping, headed right into schizophrenia. Barnes’ latest compositions are rather disjointed, with many comparing the structure to that of a Girl Talk record. You never know when one song ends, and the next begins. This works better on an album than it does live. The band’s style has changed between albums before, but nothing as dramatic when comparing the last three releases to earlier albums in the discography. The transformation is so startling, that it’s hard to believe Barnes and company are still technically part of Jeff Mangum’s Elephant 6 Collective. Highlights of the show included Barnes sitting on a throne with sultry nuns at his feet, walking around as a minotaur (half-man/half-bull), and appearing almost nude with his “dick in a box.” Barnes ended a night at the circus with his rendition of Nirvana’s immortalized “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The ending seemed a little out of place, but the crowd appreciated the homage.

Setlist:

  1. intro
  2. Id Engager
  3. So Begins Our Alabee
  4. Triphallus, to Punctuate!
  5. She’s A RejecterFor
  6. Our Elegant Caste
  7. Touched Something’s Hollow
  8. An Eluardian Instance
  9. Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse
  10. Gallery Piece
  11. Wraith Pinned To The Mist (And Other Games)
  12. Women’s Studies Victims
  13. St. Exquisite’s Confessions
  14. Superman
  15. Nonpareil Of Favor
  16. October Is Eternal
  17. Wicked Wisdom
  18. Disconnect The Dots
  19. And I’ve Seen A Bloody Shadow
  20. Plastis Wafers
  21. Beware Our Nubile Miscreants
  22. Mingusings
  23. “Lavender Dick Rub”
  24. A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvingerencore

ENCORE:

  1. Day ManGronlandic Edit
  2. Oslo In The Summertime
  3. Smells Like Teen Spirit

The entire show is available in high-quality FLAC format here.

Mark Written by:

Avid concert goer and film buff obsessed with indie and electronic music.

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