Of Montreal, the band fronted by the charismatic and wildly creative Kevin Barnes, has been going strong through various permutations for more than 20 years. The Athens, Georgia-born band has released 15 full length albums (not including EPs and singles) — during that time, they’ve experimented with styles (straight ahead pop à la Beatles to country tinged Americana to dance).
Although the songwriting is brilliant and the songs tough to get out of your head, the band’s live show (and by “show” I mean it in the most literal sense) has come to be Of Montreal’s signature, and that show arrived at Ottobar on Oct. 24.
I’ve had the great fortune to see Of Montreal nearly 20 years ago at the Ottobar’s old location in a little alley near Baltimore’s City Hall. And each time I see them, it’s totally different. Each year seems to bring with it new costumes (I’ll get into that in just a moment), themes, and spectacle. And on Wednesday night, to a completely packed Ottobar, Of Montreal took the stage to amaze an audience anew.
The evening started with the band taking the stage sans Mr. Barnes, playing a rousing introduction, just as a mysterious figure dressed in a skeleton costume (David Barnes) leapt across the stage to tell the crowd just what they were about to experience.
Stream White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood by Of Montreal on Spotify:
“I like him, you love him… Welcome to the stage, Of Montreal!” And as the the skeletal MC left the stage, Kevin Barnes walked on dressed in costume with blonde wig and mini-skirt, shortly followed by a trio of silver creatures with glowing eyes as they all danced through tracks from the recently released White Is Relic / Irrealis Mood and 2016’s Innocence Reaches LP.
But that wasn’t all! As the band continued, Kevin left the stage only to return dressed in a jersey and baseball cap and after a few bars giant puppets joined the rest of the band to bounce about, playfully interacting with the crowd.
In the next act, Kevin came out again in a green wig and robe along with more creatures, devils, and dancers to tease and thrill the crowd. And that quickly changed to include huge sugar skulls waving back and forth to “Forecast Fascist Future” and “The Party’s Crashing Us Now,” one of the highlights of the evening.
As the show neared its conclusion, one of the performers crowd surfed across the dance floor back to the stage as confetti cannons popped off at the last song, “She’s a Rejecter.” It was an amazing spectacle that left this crowd wanting more.
Of Montreal continues their tour through the end of November. One of the best live shows around, you owe it to yourself to check them out here.
Soft Music / Juno Portraits of the Jovian Sky
A Sport and a Pastime
Writing the Circles
It’s Different for Girls
Chrissy Kiss the Corpse
Beware Our Nubile Miscreants
We Will Commit Wolf Murder
Our Riotous Defects
Triphallus, To Punctuate!
Forecast Fascist Future
The Party’s Crashing Us
She’s a Rejecter
What the Hell
Here are some photos of Of Montreal putting on an amazing show at The Ottobar on Oct. 24, 2018. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.