Of Montreal Take The Avalon! 5/14/11
If you're worried that you've lost your sense of childlike wonder, and you're just a shriveled up brittle cocoon of adult responsibilities and obligations, fear not! Go see an Of Montreal show. No prior knowledge of the band is necessary. You do not need to own their T-shirts or albums or even know that they are not in fact from Montreal (They’re from Georgia). All you need is a willingness to clap your hands and jump up and down. Oh yes and a propensity for suspending disbelief.
It was immediately apparent from the minute a referee arrived on stage, that this was going to be no ordinary show. Whipping the crowd up into a lather, the referee ushered in Of Montreal while a giant screen projected a man in a suit running down a hallway jubilantly with the words “Success” and “Pizza Mania” flashing on the screen.
The eight piece took the stage at the Avalon looking like children who raided the dress up box. The violinist was in a giant blue body suit, the keyboardist had on a pink cocktail dress, the drummer had black sequined pants, the guitarist had feathered shoulder pads and large sunglasses, the bassist was in Sunday whites, and lead singer Kevin Barnes wore a raspberry beret which matched his red sparkling cummerbund. Even the sound man behind the booth had on overalls and was jumping up and down like a mad thing.
From the minute the first note reverberated off the rafters that this was going to be a carnival rather than a show. Their funky good natured pop was punctuated by luchador wrestling matches championed by Captain America, potato-headed beasts, large breasted Vikings, sparkling butterfly people, and unruly pigs. And through the mass of violence and sex stood the ringmaster, Mr. Barnes commanding attention in ever increasingly skimpy outfits.
His nasal voice unified the chaos singing songs of rejection and lust and rage in a colorful smorgasbord of passion that fell like a curtain over the bouncing crowd. During costume changes, different members of the band grabbed the microphone and sang their own numbers. Each of them had beautiful strong voices and a charming stage presence which lead people to openly wonder why they weren’t given the lead in more numbers.
Possibly the most classy moment of them all was when the drummer sauntered out from behind his drum kit in his sparkling trousers and brown cardigan, got a cocktail from Marilyn Monroe, bid Los Angeles good evening, and launched into a swoon-worthy cover of “My Funny Valentine” with only the violinist and pianist as accompaniment.
The evening ended with two pigs declaring war on the whole band with ribbons and confetti. The luchadors came back on stage and the Of Montreal show devolved into an all out brawl. Pig against wrestler, band mate against band mate, it was an unholy rumpus. In the end only Captain America was left standing with the violinist playing “America the Beautiful” in his honor. The crowd sang along as Captain America crowd surfed his victory lap and cheered wildly when it was over. Then they turned around and walked out into the night air; their faith in the power of imagination restored.