Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Live Review:
of Montreal

..................Liberty Hall - 11/20/07 - Lawrence, Kansas

Review by SonicRyan.....Photos by Femme Fatale.....Mind-Blowing Show by Of Montreal

"Dude, is there a reason why your elbows are in my face?" I asked the oaf that stood slightly behind me in between songs. Minutes earlier, the asshole "fan" was purposely jumping around on people's toes and jumping into unsuspecting concertgoers as if trying to incite a mosh pit (At an of Montreal show? Really? Douche.). He then proceeded to clap with his arms raised, elbows on my cheeks, preparing to hit me with a cheap shot elbow when the next song began. I maneuvered my head out of the way, only to find him re-positioning his arm, elbow again conveniently placed against my face.

"What, I can't hear you, bro," he replied.

Frustrated that I was not only dealing with an asshole, but an asshole that was hard of hearing, I raised my voice. "I just asked you IF THERE WAS A REASON WHY YOUR ELBOWS WERE IN MY FACE!"

"What, I can't hear you, bro," he replied again. I would say he was playing dumb, but I suspect that any person who looks to mosh with teenage girls and skinny indie rockers at an of Montreal show already lacks intelligence. I braced myself for the upcoming onslaught, the inevitable mosh-pit this idiot was itching to start. It never came.

That was how my experience at last Sunday's of Montreal show started. Luckily for me, things got better quickly. The drunk douchebag left soon after. Maybe his friends calmed him down, or told him to take a hike. Maybe he realized on his own that he needed to cool off. Maybe he went for more beer, and wound up realizing he'd have more fun listening to Van Halen in his '85 Chevy. Who cares? Without him, the entire left side of the floor could finally enjoy themselves.

Of Montreal concerts are always evolving. In the Spring of '04, of Montreal played the Jackpot before it had a stage, to a crowd of about 25. There were costume changes, sword fights with feathers, and other random moments of well planned insanity, but mostly the charming guitar pop took center stage. These days, however, you cannot hear about of Montreal without first and foremost hearing about their stage antics. This post would probably be no different, except there really weren't any antics to speak of. Sure, Kevin changed outfits once, and some guys - one wearing a tiger mask, the other carrying a tiger painting - would occasionally roam the stage, but that's about it. The stage set-up, however, is more elaborate than ever, with the members positioned on various platforms that wrap around the stage. This allows for little interaction among the band, perhaps the only negative thing I can say about their performance, but as a viewer it made it much easier to focus on the (gasp!) music.

Sunday's set was one of the more interesting ones I've witnessed on the Hissing Fauna tour. Seemingly obvious choices were left out ("Faberge Falls for Shuggie," "Disconnect the Dots"), while an old favorite returned ("The Repudiated Immortals"). At least one new song was played, as well as two Prince covers which bookended the main set. The opening cover of "I Would Die 4 U," may not have been the best choice to open the set if they were expecting a dance party, but it did succeed in getting the older portion of the audience to sing along. "Purple Rain," however, was astounding. If of Montreal and 80's era Prince only seem like perfect bedfellows on a kitschy level, then this cover went above and beyond to prove that of Montreal can stand toe to toe with the big boys. The guitar solo especially was to die 4.

The rest of the set was more or less a showcase for Hissing Fauna and Sunlandic Twins, as generous amounts of both albums were featured on this night. Luckily for the band, the sound problems that plagued them at the Granada show (and the Pitchfork Music Festival, though every band had sound problems at the festival) were amended. Finally, I could actually hear Kevin's guitar during "Suffer for Fashion," when before it was all vocals, synthesizer, and bass.

Sunday's show was the best I have heard of Montreal sound in years, the last time being when they played a show at the Bottleneck towards the end of the Sunlandic tour, which was also before they invested as much time and money into their stage show. Coincidence? I'm not sure. But then again, I always wind up having fun at of Montreal concerts.

Check out Of Montreal playing "Oslo in the Summertime" and "Gronlandic Edit" live in Lawrence. (FemmeFatale says: You try holding the camera steady while "all the party people are dancing for the indie star.")

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