Photo: Ctlsmdesnd / Flickr
Of Montreal are not strangers to Dallas — they bring their travelling circus and sonic exorcism to our doorstep like clockwork, following the winds and the seasons as well as the long line of tour busses locked on a trajectory toward SXSW. Still, they continue to draw and captivate crowds who express their demand to see Kevin Barnes and company rock out during their exciting live show, and for good reason.
While their recorded music may be a deep journey to the center of Kevin Barnes’ psyche, Of Montreal’s live show adds absurdist theatrics, psychedelic visuals, and a hyperactive dance party to fully flesh out the experience.
The lights and colors projected across the stage immerse the band in a world of technicolor landscapes, trippy trees and fauna, and squiggly apparitions of ferocious animals primed to attack. Oh, and I would be amiss not to mention the floating, spinning eyeballs. Those are iconic.
Throughout the set, two superhuman performers took on the task of manning the theatrical element of the show. One minute they were superheroes, crowd-surfing over the audience with their capes flowing behind, the next they were operating giant mythical puppets, battling it out over Barnes, resulting in the most flagrant wardrobe malfunction I’ve ever seen on a giant puppet. At one point they donned their pig masks and one of them did… unnatural… things with a tree.
Constant throughout the frenzied theatrics and visuals was the talented band, building flawless renditions from their manic depressive discography and playing more instruments than should be humanly possible. Kishi Bashi, Dottie Alexander, and Bryan Poole were all front and smiling, rocking out and keeping the audience engaged — though we were doing a good job of that on our own. Front and center was Kevin Barnes, of course, running double duty between the synth and guitar and striking a very stoic expression, though the assembled crowd’s enthusiasm and rousing response inspired a few smiles from him.
And that, in the end, is the purpose. Everybody present was dancing and having a good time. Though, there was one exception: that one solitary fellow, a rather tall chap, who simply stood and refused to be moved by the swelling crowd around him. Though, even he was roused within three songs, as by “Suffer for Fashion” I glanced him strutting his stuff and participating in the riveting, prehistoric ritual of the dance party.