Monday, February 12, 2007

02.09 : The Showbox : Of Montreal

I thought I’d make the blahg a little more interesting by starting to write reviews of the numerous shows I go to (see the list to the side for a comprehensive list of shows I’m POTENTIALLY going to), if only to have yet another way to keep all of them straight in my head. I already keep all the ticket stubs that I can, but more and more bands are having will-call or guest-list related shows, which gives me no way to document that I went there. So now this.

Of Montreal, at the Showbox, Feb. 9. We walked in the door just as the middle act was finishing up their set. After going to shows in Seattle for 10 years, I’m glad I can predict with some accuracy what time a band is planning on going on stage, and I can therefore plan accordingly. We moved our way into the left-side bar, and located ourselves at the back of the group of people that were all standing in our favorite spot. We managed to work our way in to the front of the group, and then the show began. Of Montreal is one of those bands that you’re either going to love, or you’re going to hate. There’s no in-between. The lead singer sings in a high-pitched wail, there’s a dance beat backing up most of the songs, and the music is really unclassifiable. It’s kinda disco-y, kinda David Bowie, very glam, but in a new way. They make you want to dance, even if you didn’t think you had it in you.

Kevin Barnes, the lead singer, is one of the gayest, happiest, strut-ing-est lead singers out there. Very Mick Jagger, with glitter make-up. The two times I’ve seen them, he’s ended up practically naked on stage both times. This time, he went through 2 costume changes. The first outfit he had on was a fairly normal pants-driven set. The second was a bright orange dress with a wide belt. The third, green & yellow boxer briefs and a WWF-like championship belt — and nothing more.

They played a lot of songs from their new album, but they didn’t play my favorite from the album, “The Past is a Grotesque Animal”. Nor did they play “Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and Other Games)” which you may have heard recently, with new words but still recorded by them, in an Outback Steakhouse commercial. I’m afraid they didn’t play it because I read earlier at a different show they DID play it, and some stupid frat guys in the audience after the song was played yelled “Steak! Steak! Steak!” at the band. Ruiners!

The highlight of the evening was the song Kevin played from the top of a tall ladder. With a flowery head dress on. And a sparkly dress that covered the ladder, making him look like a 12’ tall woman. He didn’t get to move around, so I think next time he’ll have to bring stilts instead. (I guess that makes it THREE costume changes, really)

One other thing I noticed about the band: they regularly use guitars. On one song, there were 2 six-string electric guitars and 3 four-string electric bases, all going at once. No drums (other than the sequenced drum beat). No keyboards. But somehow, the song didn’t come across as a guitar-rock song.

It was an all ages show, so there were quite a few kiddies, and even a few parents there to mind the kids. I can’t imagine they’ll let the kids go out again to a show anytime soon after watching a grown man shake his booty at the audience in nothing but boxer briefs.

I just noticed that Of Montreal is part of the Elephant 6 Collective which is a collective started by Jeff Mangum and 3 other guys, that now includes a vast array of bands. Not sure where it goes beyond that, you’ll have to read up on it yourselves.

So there you have it, my first review. VERY rocky, I know. I like to type, so I imagine quite a bit of that in the middle is quite boring. And I’m also realizing I need to take better notes while I’m at the show — pay attention, and make sure to remember details. Like, what were the words printed on the back of Kevin’s briefs? What was that cover song that popped up literally in the middle of a song of theirs that I didn’t know? What’s a good way to close the review in a writer-y, conclusive kinda way?