November 13th, 2007


Ethiopian Masque of Red Death, Beware!

Normally, you'd be reading about my thoughts on various TV shows right now, but a confluence of events led me to be listening to Live105 Soundcheck on my way home from Belmont Sunday night, and the phones opened for a ticket giveaway a few minutes from my apartment, but because I was driving with one hand, I had to wait until I parked to attempt to call in. The first try was busy, but, to my surprise, the second call rang, and then a woman picked up, and I was terribly confused, but I said I was trying to win tickets to Of Montreal, and she took down my name and number and told me to show my ID at the Will Call booth at the Great American Music Hall the next night. I hadn't realized November 12 was the next day! It had sounded like such a faraway date. But, oh my God! I'd never won tickets from the radio before! It would be a celebration for getting my sling off.

I got hollypaul96 to go with me on short notice. She wasn't even certain Of Montreal was a band when I asked her. There were a couple opening acts, but I had never heard of them.

Before the opening acts, though, we were treated to the comedy stylings of one Sean Devlin, whose dry, detached, Mitch Hedberg-esque delivery was very entertaining...and perplexing, when combined with the video of a flying rubber duck and harmonica interludes that threatened to turn a simple odd stand-up act into performance art. "When you feel a raindrop on your head in a strawberry field, it's a sign of life. When you a feel a raindrop on your head in a submarine..."

MGMT: Thank goodness Liars were not the beginning of a streak of sucky opening bands, as I really liked MGMT. I have no idea why they reminded me of Jets Overhead, but they had sort of the same spacey feel to them, music that you could both rock out to and chill out to. A review I found compared them to Muse and Mew. There were five guys on stage, with three of them harmonizing, but it looks like the actual band is just a duo. Regardless, I really loved how layered and rich the music was; you could just get lost in it. Some of it was very '70s classic rock, which just goes to show that I tend to like music influenced by pre-'90s music more than pre-'90s music itself. Since they were selling their CD for only six bucks, I picked it up.

Grand Buffet: Of all the things I would have expected Grand Buffet to be, a fat guy and a skinny guy performing nerdcore rap was not one of them. Both of them were incredible performers, full of energy, and the fat guy especially was brilliant at moving his his head and shoulders to the beat (outputted by their lack of a touring keyboardist). The skinny guy was totally manic, jumping around all over the place, pouring Red Bull on himself. And they were just absolutely hilarious, sometimes breaking into random spoken-word pieces about National Treasure starring Nicolas Cage, the price of movie tickets to see a new Nicolas Cage movie, and how San Francisco stole sourdough from the Egyptians. And as you can see from their MySpace page, they have a song called "Murderfuck." It's actually kind of sweet. Without a doubt, Grand Buffet is a craziest opening act I have ever seen.

Of Montreal: In order to top Grand Buffet, here is a man walking out with a tiger head. Welcome to an Of Montreal show. They opened with "Rapture Rapes the Muses," which was fucking ridiculously great because I had randomly gotten that song stuck in my head earlier that day and was hoping they'd play it. They closed the encore with "The Party's Crashing Us," which was a good closer. In between, they managed to play most of my favorite tracks off The Sunlandic Twins and a few off Satanic Panic in the Attic. I don't even have Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? so I was lost there, although it appeared most of the crowd was not. In addition to the entertaining music, we were treated to Kevin Barnes in glittery blue eyeshadow and, later, blue fishnets, as well as a recurring battle between Kevin and a masked ninja. At one point, the tiger and the ninja also fought. Also, the ninja gets a lobster claw. Of Montreal puts on a show and a party!

Which brings me to my disappointment that they didn't play a single thing pre-Satanic Panic. See, Of Montreal started out all lo-fi/twee pop, with stripped-down arrangements and jangly melodies. There were songs about Jacques Lamure and fun-loving nuns and its being easy to sleep when you're dead. Then with Satanic Panic, which I think is their (I say their, but Of Montreal is pretty much just Kevin Barnes at this point) most accessible album, there was a transition to more electronic stuff, but it was still fun and Of Montreal-y. Then Sunlandic Twins went completely electro-glam, as they say, and while there were some songs I still loved and enjoyed, I wasn't happy with the new direction. And, hearing the songs live, I admit that the music is still a lot of fun, and Kevin Barnes still sounds like Kevin Barnes, but I don't like how this new sound appears to have completely usurped the old. Some of my favorite songs just wouldn't fit in the set. It would be like if, after a set full of songs like "Warning," "Drive," "I Miss You," "Here in My Room," and "Oil and Water," Incubus suddenly broke into "You Will Be a Hot Dancer." (Counterpoint: Incubus changes their sound with every album, and I don't have the same disappointment.)

It's not that Of Montreal is not good at being electro-glam dance-pop. It's just not the reason I fell in love with them in the first place. I might pick up the new album at some point, but I wasn't going to pay $15 at the merch table. I've loved Of Montreal for four years and seen them twice before in a very small venue, so it was a different experience to watch them in a larger venue with flashing lights and stuff on the video screen and crazy costumes and balloons filled with confetti. They were playing for three nights, and two of the nights (including ours) were sold out. I didn't know they'd gotten so popular. And I felt all superior, wondering how much of the audience had heard anything but the latest album or two. I discovered Of Montreal from a link to from my friend's kid sister (props to super_hoodzie_x)! I met Kevin Barnes after my first concert! I knew about them way before they had a song on the frickin' O.C. and did an Outback commercial!!

Bitching aside, I still had a great time. I was able to remain slingless for most of the time until an overenthusiastic dancer forced me to protect my poor defenseless left shoulder. It was sort of annoying to have to focus on not hurting myself rather than enjoy the songs, but I was still having one-handed fun.

The bottom line is that if this show is coming to you, definitely go. It's a fun, hilarious time.