11/13 Of Montreal @ Fiesta Gardens
Of Montreal played to a packed house at Fiesta Gardens in east Austin last Thursday evening. The show had something for everyone with Kevin Barnes doing his best to carry the torch started by David Bowie oh so long ago. Follow the jump to read our full show review, check out some pictures, and see the full set list.
Chicago’s Icy Demons graciously opened up the cool Austin evening, serving as the appetizer for the evening. Their thriving ambient noise gems cleansed the palates of all those in attendance, as members of the group traded positions and duties with abandon. Perhaps it was the incessant bobbing of the head by the lead singer or the various electronic samples being utilized, but by the end, most in the audience found that they too were moving with the band. It was an unexpected treat for most; a deserved win for the Icy Demons.
Then came the show, but it really was simply that, a show. Of Montreal rode into town, on buses not horses, fresh off the release of their marvelous album Skeletal Lamping. The fusion of sexuality and extravagance made way for one of the most creative stage shows this side of the Atlantic. One could say that this tour is the must-see show of the concert season, but in the end, it’s the theatrics you will remember, not the music.
Everyone came out of the woodworks, some wearing their mock-Kevin Barnes facial make-up for hipness sake. And out came the band, dressed, of course, in their usual outlandish costumes, with the touring drummer resembling the Native American from The Village People. The band’s get-ups were just a precursor to the various dramatic elements of the evening.
Kevin Barnes and company carefully crafted this elaborate tour. The locals in Austin were visited on the stage by ninjas, militia, pigs, chickens, over-sized appendages, silver-masked demons, dancing golden people and Kevin Barnes’ various personalities. Understandably, everyone in the audience cheered the band on as they exchanged scenes and clothing. Perhaps one of the elements that had the band going too far was the suicide of Kevin, hanging himself, only to be reincarnated in a shaving cream suit.
For most, it seemed as if the band could do absolutely no wrong. This was, after all, the spectacle that they had all awaited with much enthusiasm. It fulfilled its promise to entertain, except in one regard. Did anyone notice that the band, Barnes included, seemed completely under-enthused in regards to the actual music? We understand you have a great spectacle for us, but can you offer us music as well?
Unfortunately, the answer for Of Montreal’s music this night was “no.” A veteran of many Of Montreal performances myself, I must admit that I never have seen a sloppier version of the band. It even seemed at various points that the band might have been relying too much on backing tracks- the introductory moments of the show being an exact point. The bass was up way too loud, and the music itself just didn’t come across the way that it does on an album.
Sure, everyone loved the spectacle, but the focus of the spectacle should still be around the music. It didn’t seem like Of Montreal spent too much time on that, choosing instead to create a show or all, which came off more like a giant rave featuring a crazed frontman. The most musical moment came via a cover of Franz Ferdinand‘s “Take Me Out” for the encore, and even that version just didn’t pack the punch it should have sonically.
At the end of the evening, throngs of people left Fiesta Gardens, possibly over-sensitized. They got precisely what they wanted from Kevin Barnes and friends, a completely ridiculous show worthy of memories for the rest of their lives. What they didn’t get? Good music. This is definitely one of the worse shows, musically, I’ve attended all year, which won’t make me very popular. Still, one would be out of sorts to admit that the aesthetic appeal of the show wasn’t worth every penny. One can only imagine the tour de force they would be if they could give us all both. Next time, right?
Included in our exclusive photos of the night, you’ll find a close up shot of the set list. Look closely and you can see which costumes and skits were used during each song (what happened to the 3 encores?). It might give you a better idea as to what’s going on in Mr. Barne’s brain, or just leave you more baffled.
All pictures are provided by our incredible photo man Jonathon Edwards. If you like what you see, give him a shout on myspace.