Concert review: of Montreal at the Plaza Theatre, Orlando

click to enlarge Concert review: of Montreal at the Plaza Theatre, Orlando - Mike Wilson
Mike Wilson
Concert review: of Montreal at the Plaza Theatre, Orlando

It's hard to imagine Kevin Barnes in any position other than ringleader of his motley crew and band of nearly 15 years, of Montreal. In this tabloid age where celebrity persona is a national addiction and catching the next star with their proverbial pants down can make or break a career, Barnes seems to represent the ideal that even the most vile parts of one's self can be transformed to song and blasted into public consciousness. [Text by Andrew, photos by Mike.]

Public consciousness, in this case, was the denizens of young, shaggy, artfully clothed, and hyper-colored at Orlando's Plaza Theatre this past Thursday night. For those who don't know, an of Montreal show is an undertaking to say the least and, I'll argue, just as much of an extension of Barnes' wild psyche as his recorded material. Costumed pigs hoisting Barnes on a crucifix-like structure while he wails, "Let's tear the fucking house apart / Let's fucking tear our bodies apart," gas-masked figures in a fire extinguisher fight, and trippy imagery that could put the Yellow Submarine to shame are all par for the course at any OM show.

This time was more or less as expected, with a handful of understandably differing touches. Two drumkits sat on a monstrous platform about six feet off the stage while each members' "station," be it a mic stand or keyboard, was outfitted with a blank white canvas that faced the crowd. As Barnes and Co. emerged, these canvases became backdrops featuring a range of perfectly-placed projections that played off them, the drum heads and two screens above the band throughout the show. It was pretty fucking cool, to put it eloquently.

OM are touring in support of their latest release, Paralytic Stalks, and relied heavily on tracks from the new LP. They kicked off the set with "Giled Ascent," the same track that opens Stalks, and continued with the next three — "Spiteful Intervention," "Dour Percentage" and "We Will Commit Wolf Murder." While played impeccably well, each of these songs generally just feel like more of the same for Barnes. It's still comforting to see that Barnes hasn't changed much and still really puts it all out there in terms of lyrics and showmanship, but it's kind of exhausting after a while. A number of these tracks do take intriguing instrumental turns, delving into new, altogether more proggy territory for the band, which sounded great pumping through the Plaza's sound system.

of Montreal detoured from Stalks material and cycled through some of the best cuts from 2007's Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, like "The Past is a Grotesque Animal," "Suffer for Fashion," and the show-ending "Gronlandic Edit."

At the risk of sounding disgustingly cliche, Barnes does and always will march to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes this is a compliment, other times a declaration of frustration. In the end, he's a widely strange, vulnerable artist, and one of the most fantastic specimens in modern music because of it.

Setlist
Gelid Ascent
Spiteful Intervention
Dour Percentage
We Will Commit Wolf Murder
She's a Rejector
Nonpareil of Wisdom
Wintered Debts
Ye, Renew the Plaintiff
Suffer for Fashion
No Conclusion
Authentic Pyrrhic Remission, Part 1
The Past Is a Grotesque Animal
Authentic Pyrrhic Remission, Part 2

Encore:
Skeletal Lamping Medley
Gronlandic Edit

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