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Arts and Entertainment

Of Montreal, MGMT, Grand Buffett @ The Avalon, 11/09/07

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Friday night marked the final performance of Of Montreal's LA stint and it will never slip from my memory. I felt like I was tripping on acid. I had the worst cold I've contracted in years, surely that didn't help, and random imagery (Dave Navarro, grizzly bears, cartoon heads, and iTunes-like visualizers) was in full effect throughout the night. Between MGMT's psychedelic, synth-laden set, Grand Buffet's abrasive, hilarious antics, and the filming Of Montreal's unreal production, I was completely discombobulated.

As you may remember, I saw MGMT twice at CMJ and I came back with nothing but rave reviews. However, it must be noted that there was a prevailing sense of "home advantage," as they say in the sporting realm. I watched them play to the masses on their field, and thus I experienced MGMT in their prime. LA, however, just didn't get MGMT. Something was lost over the 2,700 some odd miles they traveled to get here. I can't exactly pinpoint the reason why, but there was an aura of misunderstanding. Despite the awkward motions, MGMT hauled through a solid set comprising of expected Oracular Spectacular hits like "Electric Feel", "Time To Pretend", "The Handshake" and "Weekend Wars". It was disappointing to witness such an uneasy introduction and, much to my chagrin, no "Kids" included in the set list. I'm certain that the next time they come through LA they'll be more well-received.

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I went outside to skip Grand Buffett because I vowed to myself, "No rap while I'm sick!" I paid a visit to their Myspace prior to the show and I absolutely hated what I heard. But as my friend went back inside to grab a beer, two white dudes caught his attention with their absurd presence. He came back outside and told me, "Dude, you have to see this." I came inside to witness the spectacle: one meager, tattooed redhead with a doll in his arms and a heavy-set guy, who looks like he's from ICP. They were rattling off nonsensical garbage that made me laugh out loud. I recall the words "adderall" and "pussy" appearing in the same sentence. I could care less for their music, but their antics were entertaining.

Of Montreal put on quite the production, literally. As the curtain rose, the band stood on separated, light-integrated platforms. Kevin Barnes stood in a godly stance, decked out in a Saturday Night Fever meets John Wayne costume. Trippy graphics and visualizers ran amok amidst the multiple screens. Some tech-nerd was having the time of his life when he slapped this thing together. I had received an e-mail from a colleague who attended the first night, imparting the fact that these shows were, apparently, being filmed. I just didn't expect such an elaborate and flamboyant presentation.

Cameras whizzed overhead while Barnes stared deeply yet dispassionately into our eyes. It was an odd experience because I felt overlooked, as though I was merely a prop in Of Montreal's DVD filming. There was a lack of sincerity that I generally associate with great concert-going experiences. Although it was funny watching Barnes play along with the occasional samurai ninja, it got old pretty quickly. I know that the premise of their brand of glam-rock is glam, but I think that they've let their gimmick commandeer their identity. Of Montreal indulged a bit and they verged overdoing it. I'd rather see them perform without excess.

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