Concert review: of Montreal with James Husband at The Ritz Ybor (with pics and setlist)

These dancers/actors made infrequent appearances, punctuating various songs with their bizarre scenes (like a faux gunfight during “Plastis Wafer” with Barnes shooting his adversary before taking his own life), or serving as Barnes’ personal special [image-1]effects team via small hand-held spotlights and mini-fog machines that brought a heightened sense of surreal to the projected videos. At one point, the team brought out feather blowers and doused the band and audience in sprays of white fluffiness.


There were none of Barnes’ notorious costume changes (aside from him donning a different shirt for the encore), and his theatrics were somewhat scaled down, although he did end the show on a climactic note, splayed out on a wooden, rotating X-shaped device like a non-Jesus figure on a non-cross (see below).


The music was much louder and more aggressive than you’d expect from the popadelic fantasm of the albums, a fact I rather enjoyed. Other highlights: “Mingusings,” which I barely recognized because of its harder feel, almost as if the electro-ness had been re-imagined with an edge; when the noisy breakdown of “Beware Our Nubile Miscreants” turned into an acid-washed spaceland jam with matching animations; and the new funk and ’60s rock-influenced song, “Like a Tourist,” which I'd hoped to hear and made me anticipate the forthcoming album (release date not yet confirmed) even more.


[image-2]The cover of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” ended the show on a fun note, and the band seemed to be in good spirits as they left the stage for the final time. “See you at the after party,” Dottie said.


While it wasn’t the visual extravaganza of the 2008 shows I saw, and they didn't they play a few of my all-time my favorites (no “Wicked Wisdom” from Skeletal Lamping, “Gronlandic Edit" or "Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider" from Hissing Fauna, no "Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games" from Sunlandic Twins), I actually appreciated the change of pace. I mean, there was still plenty going on, but the focus was more on the music and the players, and they seemed to be having an honest-to-goodness good time without all the trappings to get in the way. And anyway, Kevin Barnes has enough stage presence to hold his own just fine, thank you.


Setlist:


For Our Elegant Castle


Mindusings (re-arranged, harder, slowed down?)


Cato as a Pun


Suffer for Fashion


Lysergic Bliss


[image-3]Beware Our Nubile Miscreants


And I’ve Seen a Bloody Shadow


Plastis Wafer


St. Exquisite’s Confessions


*Like a Tourist (*new song)


Du Og Meg (From Icons, Abstract Thee)


An Eluardian Instance


Oslo in the Summertime


Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse


A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger


She’s a Rejector


Encore:


Requiem For O.M.M.2


I Want You Back (Jackson 5)


*My friend recorded the show again, this time getting the band's permission beforehand and without (hopefully) the mic problems he ran into the last time. I can't make any guarantees about a fast turnaround, however, so stay tuned...


More pics by Mike:


[gallery=147]

You don't always have to use glitter to bring the glam, and of Montreal proved this with their moderately stripped-down show at The Ritz in Ybor City with James Husband this past Thursday night. [All photos by Mike Wilson.]

James Husband is the solo recording project of James Higgins III, of Montreal’s dark-haired drummer/multi-instrumentalist. As a frontman, he turned on the suave charm, and sang and played guitar backed by a ensemble that included of Montreal members Dottie Alexander on keys, and Davey Pierce on bass and drums. On tour in support of his 2009 Polyvinyl release, A Parallax I, his sound mixed '60s psyche rock with New Wave-flavored electronics. When I arrived, Kevin Barnes was doing unobtrusive drum duty while Higgins strutted around the stage dressed like a young yuppie in his black-and-white-checked button-down shirt, messy red-dotted tie, and white slacks, occasionally picking up a shaker to bring some tongue-and-cheeky percussion to his band’s sound.

A tiger-masked performer appeared on stage at around 9:50 p.m. to herald the band's appearance, Kevin Barnes making a casually grand entrance in a white tee and suspenders and a tiny cut-off skirt (or were they shorts?), his eyes painted in teal eyeliner that matched his tattered teal tights, and a blue flower-petal collar fastened around his neck.

The band (on what I refer to as an in-between-albums tour) had shed aux drummer Ahmed Gallab and returned to the core five-piece lineup, their stage show becoming a more straightforward affair – well, as straightforward as an of Montreal show can get, anyway. The pair of huge screens were still mounted behind the band and the dazzling projections of kaleidoscopic imagery, geometric animations, and bizarre cartoon characters were interrupted by live video streams as recorded onstage by the scaled-down troupe of extras.

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