Of Montreal – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 15, 2009

April 16th, 2009
(Photo courtesy of Of Montreal)

(Photo courtesy of Of Montreal)

It started with a tiger—or, make that, a man wearing a tiger mask— creeping onstage, urging the expectant crowd to follow. The tiger was the White Rabbit, and we followed him down the rabbit hole, like a naive Alice, into the alternate universe of Kevin Barnes’s mind. Flashing strobes, psychedelic lights, nude suits and bizarro dress-up pantomime filled the gaps on the stage last night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Then I closed my eyes and realized there’s music in there, really good music—funky, freak-out music that rides the bronco-buckin’ bass (sometimes two basses!) like in some dream-world rodeo. Man, that bass really popped. I’d previously seen Of Montreal at Roseland Ballroom, and the geometry of the room and that show dissipated the songs in the spectacle, overtaking all on the back of a white horse. But in the cozy confines of Music Hall, the spectacle only enhanced the music. It was a perfect mix from the entire groovy catalog, like a steroid-enhanced psychofunkula.

Is there time to discuss Janelle Monáe, who opened the show? She was an utter revelation: Sun Ra, Outkast and Jimi Hendrix perfectly pureed and poured into Monae’s curvy, tuxedoed, hairdo-from-the-future-of-the-past figure, dancing around like a robot on holiday. Unfortunately, I can’t really get into that because too many adjectives are required. You’d better just check her out. She’s that good. —A. Stein