With the recent release of their new album Freewave Lucifer f<ck f^ck f>ck, Of Montreal was ready to unleash their immersive sound onto the stage and illustrate the stories found here and within their deep and illusive discography. Teetering the line between a performance art and a live music can be tough to accomplish but what Of Montreal have done not only shatters expectations but also blurs the line between the two to take each to a different level. Joined by a supporting cast of characters, the Athens based indie art-pop group was able to put on a spectacle that captured the essence of why they have maintained somewhat of a cult following.
Locate S,1 brought a funk-fueled electro-disco inspired set that had the crowd groovin’. The band, fronted by Christina Schneider, was the perfect bridging the gap into the main act, providing a space to let loose and feel the grooves.
As the time grew near and in the most theater inspired fashion, the band came out with an emcee wearing a lucha mask, giving a rousing introduction and lay out of the criteria for the night. What stood out was their proclamation for everyone to challenge all norms we were being subjected to and act like gods that we are tonight. Comparing our bodies to universes entangling at this one moment, this intro turned The Regent into the Pantheon of all of the gods in attendance. As the masked man went away, we saw frontperson Kevin Barnes emerge in a sequin studded outfit looking like a god straight from the heavens. The excitement reached a new level from the crowd as the band ripped into crowd favorite “it’s different for girls”. With a heavy hitter from the get go the band was able to choose from their vast discography and keep the fans guessing for what was to come next. In a similar vain, it seemed like each transition into another song was equivalent to the transitioning into a different scene in a collection of stories. With each song having it’s unique visuals and performances from Kevin bouncing around stage, to writhing on the floor and becoming surrounded by different creatures that would come out. From people dressed in gimp suits, large moths and owls, these apparitions were enough to challenge the worst nightmares from a bad trip.
As the visuals continued to mystify the masses, the band continued to rip through their vast discography and playing some rarities from their 2021 release I Feel Safe With You, Trash that capture the lockdown blues and really dove into the inner workings of Barne’s mind. This rang especially true when “This Is ExpOsed” was played and it felt like an intimate moment between auteur and audience. With lyrics like “I’m liminal I’m free/Call me he,/call me she/I said, I’m macho I’m femme/Call me they, call me them” it felt like the intimate story of Barnes’ recent coming out of being genderqueer. As a sneaky little one-two punch the band played
“Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider” that brought an explosion of cheers and smiles throughout the crowd. This seemed to open up the floodgates of the party with more and more theatrical stunts happening on stage, the abundance of dancing and singing in the crowd which felt like a roller coaster of emotions. Closing the main set the band choose to play arguably their most recognizable sons “Grolandic Edit” and “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” which was a perfect way to end the party, with balloon snakes being fed into the crowd from the stage and finding themselves wrapping around the theater. As a little treat for the encore set, we were treated to hits such as “Suffer for Fashion” and “She’s a Rejecter” which could have easily kept the party going, but in the end the farewell was a perfect close to the show and capped off an amazing night.
Seeing Of Montreal for the first time was definitely very reminiscent of the first time I’ve ever heard them. Their style, their look, the hooks all get to you from the get go and you just know you’re in for something unique and exciting. The storytelling and the visuals add to the bit of the charm that the band possesses. At their core you know coming in that this as art-punk influenced as it gets, but when you peel back the layers and let the whole show mount up, you’re struck with a performance unlike anything you’d ever see. The concept of being you’re own god in the Pantheon of the night is certainly one of the best ways to describe it. The show felt explosive and expansive enough to just know you are safe being yourself and expressing yourself as the person you truly are, the same way the band is expressing themselves as the music and performance titans that they have become.
Words by: Alfredo Luna
Photos by: Erika Reinsel