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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Of Montreal - Houston, TX (11/12/2008)

This was my third time seeing Of Montreal in Houston, and fortunately the band opted to leave Numbers Night Club behind them and move on to far superior (in every way) venue, Warehouse Live.  The move seems to be one of necessity rather than preference, however, as there is no way a venue like Numbers could have handled a show of this magnitude.  

To describe the set, you need to know that the stage setup is massive.  Two giant platforms topped with drum-kits (yes, two drummers included), one platform with a smaller platform attached for Dottie to do her thing on, and a stage and screen in the center of the stage that rotates and moves at will.  The set practically swallowed the opening act, Icy Demons, whole as they played away in the shadow of this massive structure.

The band, themselves, were hit or miss - often blending pretty straightforward indie rock with what could only be described as an evil organ grinder's best musical moments.  The drummer was absolutely insane, and the backing trio that switched off on a variety of instruments and vocal duties were also entertaining to watch.  The lead singer had a rather unimpressive voice, but he used it well enough to where it didn't distract.  

Of course, the reason every single person was at the show was for Of Montreal.  Honestly, seeing pictures of this tour doesn't do the thing justice at all.  I, myself, had seen them and I had no clue what an incredible production the band was able to pull off.  Much of the credit goes to the absolutely wonderful troupe of talented actors that play multiple roles during the show's 1 1/2 hour runtime.  Buddha-like people, ninjas, old western saloon-dwellers, eagles, tigers, pigs (sexy bikini pig and naked fat-cat pig, mind you), assassins in camouflage, and probably a dozen other roles are assumed by this handful of people who add to the charm of the band without distracting from the music.

The band was awesome as usual, and seeing them in a larger venue really allowed them to perform to their heart's content without any restrictions.  Kevin Barnes was his normal diva-self, engaging in countless costume changes, one which included a suit made entirely of shaving cream, another which was mostly just him in "hoochie shorts" and covered in red paint.  The show had him engaging in all sorts of activities, including being dressed in women's clothes by a member of the acting troupe, trying to commit suicide in a variety of ways (ultimately achieving success by way of noose), and arising from a coffin in the aforementioned shaving cream suit.

For me, there was only one complaint for the night, and that was on the band's insistence on using a variety of vocal effects that often made Barnes' voice sound digitalized.  It simply detracts from the greatness of the songs in their original forms.  I can't remember if I had the same complaint the last time I saw them, but for some reason I think that I might have.  Song of the night is a toss-up between the live juggernaut "She's a Rejector" or the surprisingly awesome "Women's Studies Victims."  I would have to give it to the latter, I guess as it completely changed my view of the song.  "Gallery Piece" which I stated in my review of Skeletal Lamping, would probably fare better in a live setting, didn't.  I still don't enjoy it very much.

Friends and readers, I have been known from time to time to spout off about the sheer awesomeness of a Flaming Lips show, and I cannot begin to explain to you how much this new Of Montreal show compares in the size of production.  Certainly the Lips have much more capital at their disposal, and are able to accomplish things that Of Montreal simply can't.  But for ambition, complexity, bizarreness, and entertainment value, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better show in 2008 or the coming year.  If you like the band or not, you owe it to yourself to see what a creative group of individuals like Of Montreal and their friends can accomplish.  This is a rock show like none other! 


Anonymous said...

yea it was a great show!
btw, i was pretty shit faced towards the end and i cant for the life of me remember what the encore song was.. the only thing i remember was the screen telling me to cheer, yell, scream, meow or something like that.
oh and from the angle of the pictures i think i was maybe a few yards behind you... awesome blog thanks!

Cale said...

The encore was "Gronlandic Edit" - a strange choice if you ask me.

I did like the fact that they kept the encore to one song though. I hate it when a band comes out and does a 5 song encore. Just add them to your setlist, y'know?