of Montreal / Jon Brion
Fox Theater; Oakland, CA

Even though I’ve seen pictures of Kevin Barnes on a white horse and {(NSFW)} Kevin Barnes with no clothes, and even though I thought I was ready to be a witness to the spectacle that is an of Montreal performance, nothing could have prepared me for seeing this band for the first time. And that’s probably a good thing, because by the time the show was over, I was happy to feel like I’d been hit by a train.

That train did not, however, include Jon Brion among its passengers. His opening set was subdued and pleasant, two things that make for a nice first act but are not particularly memorable. He hopped nimbly around the stage from instrument to instrument, playing four or five for each song, and capped off his performance with a replete-with-autotune rendition of Daft Punk’s “Around the World.” He is clearly a gifted musician, but his creations are better-suited to recording. Suffice to say, it’s good he played before of Montreal and not after, because though he held his own in front of a 2,300-person audience, he didn’t captivate.

Adequate representation of the of Montreal portion of the evening requires visuals, and the method by which founder/singer Kevin Barnes entered the stage got things going nicely:

The earlier parts of the show included many vignettes to accompany songs. We got a gas-masked family on Christmas morning; a philanderer caught in the act and dragged away by mysterious creatures; pigs all over the place; and some others I can’t remember because I never quite got the hang of where to look during the show. Should I have focused on the actors who played out these scenes?

Or perhaps guitarist Bryan Poole was more deserving of my attentions with his feathered wings and star-printed guitar?

Either way, I didn’t possess the ability to compartmentalize and pay attention to specific songs. It became clear that live performances are another creative outlet for Barnes, where his excellent music provides a space for physical manifestations of his overactive imagination. The band blazed through a setlist composed mostly of tracks from last year’s Skeletal Lamping and its predecessor, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?. They rarely stopped playing, and when they did, it was mostly to thank the audience for a warm welcome back to the States after the European festival circuit. Sure, their performance reflected their fatigue, but this relatively tame of Montreal show was still mind-warping.

After the first encore's exhaustive jamming of Hissing Fauna’s 12-minute centerpiece, “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal,” I didn’t expect the excellent second encore that followed: a cover of David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream." When a band with a fully realized aesthetic pays tribute to an artist who clearly informs the group’s output, it’s a nice wink to the audience and to the musical world outside the group. And for a band whose sole recording member created much of his last album as his African American transsexual ex-con alter-ego Georgie Fruit, who is there to thank for influence but Ziggy Stardust? I missed seeing the original “Moonage Daydream” by over a decade, but thanks to of Montreal’s cover, I got a little taste of spectacular glam rock at its finest. The band did Bowie justice, and if he’d seen the show that preceded the homage, I think he would have approved.


Butt Bank intro

Nonpareil of Favor

Bunny Ain’t No Kind Of Rider

Wraith Pinned To The Mist And Other Games

Id Engager

And I’ve Seen A Bloody Shadow

The Party’s Crashing Us

Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse

October Is Eternal

A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger

Beware Our Nubile Miscreants

Daniel (Bat For Lashes cover)

Metal Finds Troll (new song)

For Our Elegant Caste

Touched Something’s Hollow

An Eluardian Instance

Rapture Rapes the Muses

She’s A Rejecter

The Past Is A Grotesque Animal [encore]

Moonage Daydream (David Bowie cover) [second encore]

[Photos: Elzee]

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