Of Montreal – Music Hall of Williamsburg – May 22, 2013
Just so you’re forewarned, in case you didn’t get the memo, shirts were optional for the encore at last night’s of Montreal show at Music Hall of Williamsburg. The set opened in high energy, the band hopping with an almost punk intensity and white-clad human balloon structures with skeleton masks skulking around the stage. From there it was a stream of constant multisensory activity: thick slabs of psychedelic funk music and plenty of weirdo concoctions to see. This was music you could hear, see, smell, taste and feel. Songs from the entire catalog were stitched together into longer stretches, like a DJ working the dance floor, Kevin Barnes leading a disco from another dimension.
Almost every other song was accompanied by some stage production: “You Do Mutilate?” featured a faux preacher curing the blind as Barnes seemed almost oblivious to the craziness behind him, the band going supergroovy. And then, as the music slipped into a hypersexed prog rock, things quickly went from PG to R with “Plastis Wafers.” Barnes returned to the stage following a rocking jam as a winged angel king, his white shroud serving as a human screen for the Day-Glo projections during “Hydra Fancies.” Every time the stage door opened, you could only wonder what kind of what-is-that!? would emerge.
Still, the closing five numbers, when the antics were kept to a minimum, were the highlight of the show. Beginning with “Sex Karma”—sung as a duet while three keyboards went thick—and ending with “A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger,” the band and crowd locked into an ultragroovy, frenzied fugue fueled by a constant carbonated bass. Well, come to think of it, yes, “Suffer for Fashion” had some sort of giraffe theme going on (because, why not?), and the closing tune did feature He-Man making out with Skeletor under a cloud of confetti, but whatever, it was an otherworldly dance party. The encore started with the guitarist singing a Space Trucks song, a supercharged afrobeat that popped into a fun cover of “I Shot the Sheriff” and finished with Barnes singing “Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider” while large creatures made out of stuffed animals roamed the stage. It was the stuff of a madman’s dream, thankfully with the funkiest soundtrack you could ask for. Oh, and you can put your shirt back on now. —A. Stein