Live review: Of Montreal, Neighborhood Theatre, 6/12/2012



On Tuesday night at Neighborhood Theatre, the crowd chanted for an encore. So, naturally, two men wearing pig masks, bodysuits and Shakespearean shirts started a drum battle onstage. After a referee halted the contest, the eight-member band, led by a man with a half-shaven head, bright blue eye shadow and sporting scandalously short cutoff shorts, emerged.

Only at an Of Montreal show.

It was Of Montreal's first Charlotte performance and the first stop of a North American tour for the band's recently released 11th album, Paralytic Stalks. The Athens, Ga., act releases about an album a year of its warped psychedelic pop, and the live shows reflect the group's work aesthetic - Of Montreal works hard onstage and at breakneck speed.

The set was nearly sensory overload. A projection screen depicted colorful pictures of everything from flowers to eyeballs to sloths. The band's famous live performance art made an appearance as well, with acted out vignettes depicting humanity's darker side - a shooting standoff, a wrestling match, assault on a woman, a caveman killing a man in a pig mask - as well as more esoteric scenes, including men in black body suits throwing balloons into the crowd, a giant, dancing knight and two men in checkered bodysuits lifting up a woman in a white bodysuit with petal-shaped, papier-m√Ęché hands.

All of this madness was led by frontman Kevin Barnes - or rather, his alter ego Georgie Fruit - who strutted about the stage, often in women's clothing and in various states of undress. Barnes is an enthralling performer, light on the banter and heavy on the sexual, androgynous performance.

The band opened with the funky "Like a Tourist" and kept the songs upbeat and danceable. A cover of Led Zepplin's "The Immigrant Song" was wailing, rocking and surprisingly straightforward.

Zac Colwell - a touring member of Of Montreal who also plays drums with the opening band, Chappo - added a velvety sax solo to "St. Exquisite's Confessions" that was worthy of a George Michael song. "Our Riotus Defects" integrated the performance art best as a tiny, blonde, underwear-clad "crazy girl" shimmied around Barnes - she was the barely-dressed Courtney Cox to his dandy Bruce Springsteen. Stalks collaborator Kishi Bashi was also along for the ride, his violin providing yet another layer of complexity to the band's music. Combined with the ever-present visuals, the excitement was relentless.

The packed crowd responded with the same high energy. Confetti guns exploded. Streamers danced into the air. The band and the audience crowd-surfed with reckless abandon. The smell of cannabis wafted through the venue. Someone in the crowd even decided wearing a tiger suit was a good idea. It was a night of weirdness, it was a night of debauchery and it was only a Tuesday.

Like a Tourist
Spiteful Intervention
The Party's Crashing Us
Suffer For Fashion
Plastis Wafer
St. Exquisite's Confessions
Hydra Fancies
Dour Percentage
We Will Commit Wolf Murder
The Immigrant Song
She's a Rejecter
Nonpareil of Favor
For Our Elegant Caste
Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse

Our Riotus Defects
Skeletal Lamping
Gronlandic Edit

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