There are precious few things as reliably entertaining and visually promiscuous as an of Montreal concert. Fireworks. Super Bowl half-time shows. Presidential debates in the year 2016.
When Kevin Barnes, faerie extraordinaire, cavorts onto the stage escorted by parasol-toting dancers (and sometimes riding a giant, ambiguous four-legged shaggy animal) everything happening outside the doors of that concert hall matters no more. Barnes creates for his audience their own private dimension, and he fills it with the weirdest things he can think of. If the concertgoer can tear their eyes away from the swaying, ambiguous figures on stage and focus their attention on the backdrop, they are in for a treat. I would be hard-pressed to detail even a fifth of the brilliant imagery woven into of Montreal's projection videos. There are many eyeballs. It's glorious.
The music on this tour in question is infused with the vicious electronic edge present on of Montreal's 2016 LP, Innocence Reaches. Barnes has reached back into his discography and retooled new music, old music, rarities and staples with the new and aggressive sound that dominates his 14th record. On past tours, he played guitar on nearly every song. On this tour, having fully metamorphosed into an immaterial Bowie-colored butterfly, he plays guitar on perhaps a third. Freed from that nine-pound block of mahogany and carrying only a microphone, his audience interaction is more personal than ever.
Kevin does not shy away from political and ethical commentary in his music, but he typically allows that commentary to dance in the abstract (on False Priest's closing track, for example, he sings "if you think some prophet's words are more important than your brother . . . you're ill . . . and you're wrong"). While he avoids taking easy shots at specific figures or movements in his music, he allows the props in his performances to express his political leanings in gleeful (and often, overtly sexual) abandon.
Only at an of Montreal show can one reliably expect to see a giant inflatable phallus with the face of Donald Trump, several equally androgynous costume changes, and amorphous iridescent body suits with the approximate texture of a puffer ball all in one night. And, at the merch table, his art director/brother David Barnes' glorious sculptures, covered in a multitude of small, odd protrusions and unlikely limbs.
There's a $20 bill in your wallet. What were you planning to spend it on? Gas? Coffee at Blue State? Durham Fair admission? Damn the coffee, I say, and damn the bunnies, bovines and artisanal alpaca wool outerwear! Let that $20 bill do what it is itching to do. Let it march right out of your wallet and into David and Kevin Barnes' sweaty outstretched palms. Catch of Montreal on this tour, their next tour . . . any tour. The experience is impossible to regret.
What we're listening to.