Call for Music Writers... Rock, Indie, Hip-hop, R&B, Electronic, Americana, Metal, World and More


Of Montreal

(24 Apr 2004: Subterranean — Chicago)

Of Montreal

Photo credit: Chris Billheimer

Once again, I’ll fulfill my contractual obligations as music critic and point out, first and foremost, that my charge this week, Of Montreal, is best known as a member of the “legendary” Elephant 6 collective. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen the words “Elephant 6 collective” written without “the legendary” preceding them. In any case, Elephant 6 was most famous in those heady pre-millennial years for churning out twisted, psychedelic-leaning rock bands like it was going out style (wait a second…). As pursuant to clause C of my contract, I will now drop that Olivia Tremor Control, Beulah, Apples in Stereo, and the mighty Neutral Milk Hotel all acted as overachieving Elephant 6 brothers to our humble little Of Montreal.

No longer. After lasting over seven years and putting out more recordings than Ryan Adams on speed, Of Montreal has thrown a healthy dose of dance into the psych-pop mix, and the result was a puffy-shirt-clad, confetti-covered extravaganza that had even the most long-faced indie kids shakin’ they ass at Chicago’s Subterranean. At this show, Of Montreal’s substantial (if slightly uneven) back catalog was wiped from memory as the band hustled and bumped its way through the just-released Satanic Panic in the Attic. As the band took the stage (with lead Montrealian Kevin Barnes sporting a Roger Daltrey-circa-1967 outfit), the sound system blared a Chicago Bulls-style introduction, asking us “to please welcome to the stage… Polyvinyl Recording artist… Of Montreal!”

Barnes and company then happily busted into “Disconnect the Dots” and immediately half the room was dancing. What does it take to get people at a Chicago small venue rock show to move their feet? Alcohol doesn’t seem to work. Drugs don’t even get their heads bobbing. And earth-shaking rock n’ roll generally just gets the boys stroking their chins thoughtfully. But Of Montreal has the magic touch. Kevin Barnes was the pied piper of hipsterville, and from his first incantation of “come disconnect the dots with me, poppet,” he already had us following in time.

Don’t get me wrong, there were still plenty of folded-arms types hanging around the back, more interested in the bar than the show. Undeterred, Of Montreal fostered the dance party atmosphere, not only by churning out song after song of electronic psychedelic pop mayhem, but with absurdist skits, confetti, and costume changes (including Kevin Barnes in a skeleton-print leotard for “Chrissy Kiss the Corpse”). One by one, the skeptics kicked off their Sunday shoes, whether drawn in by Barnes’ powdered-wig antics during “Rapture Rapes the Muses”, the hilarious sumo wrestler voiceover on the “wind war” skit, or, the coup-de-grace, a completely earnest closing cover of “More than a Feeling”. They all fell, every last one of ‘em, and they can thank the good people at Of Montreal for a rare moment unrestrained, rump-rattlin’ fun. Because that’s just the thing about Of Montreal live: They’re gonna make you have fun, kid, whether you want to or not.

Tagged as: of montreal
Related Articles
3 Mar 2015
Aureate Gloom is a soliloquy to anyone willing to listen, an intense affirmation of the confusion that comes with change, and of the uncertainty that comes with difficult choices.
3 Mar 2015
Aureate Gloom is momentarily great, but it becomes infuriating in a instant.
By PopMatters Staff
8 Oct 2014
From breathtaking reformulations of shoegaze to British soul revival, this batch of stellar recordings from the 2000s is an eclectic one.
4 Sep 2014
The Past Is a Grotesque Animal takes a compelling, 20-year long story, and zips far too quickly through it.
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks

© 1999-2015 All rights reserved.™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.