Under the cover of darkness with Satanic symbols projected above, cloaked figures entered the stage. The music was dark and ritualistic. Lining the hood of the shadowy figure at the center of the stage was thin neon light. In a matter of seconds, a blue cloud of fog began to form, seemingly escaping from the hood. Suddenly the room exploded in light and color, as Of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes disrobed to reveal himself in glorious drag while the band launched into Innocence Reaches single “It’s Different for Girls.” The atmosphere in the room was immediately transformed into an intensely energetic celebration with the band flying through their songs at a frantic pace. The entire twenty plus song set played out like a giant medley with seamless transitions masking where one song ended and another began in similar fashion to a masterful dj set. All the while, Kevin Barnes acted the role of the glam pop diva, tirelessly dancing around the stage amongst a bizarre collection of costumed characters. Not unlike Madonna or Lady Gaga, Barnes frequently disappeared from the stage, only to reappear in a new outrageous outfit. Of the multiple times I’ve been fortunate enough to see Of Montreal, this was undoubtedly the most wonderfully over the top and flamboyant performance I’ve seen. Expectedly, the set consisted of a heavy dosage of Innocence Reaches tracks. The high energy electro pop sound of the new record worked really well in the live setting, especially highlights such as “Let’s Relate,” “Ambassador Bridge” and “My Fair Lady.” Interestingly, they played nearly nothing from their previous three albums Paralytic Stalks, Lousy with the Sylvianbriar and Aureate Gloom, loading the rest of their setlist with crowd pleasers from their peak era of 2005-2010. Their tremendous four song encore featured covers of “The Man Who Sold the World” and “1999” sandwiched between Hissing Fauna… highlights “Suffer for Fashion” and “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse.” Although Of Montreal is no longer the critical darlings they were a decade ago, they are one of the most consistent and adventurous bands of the 21st century, and their live performances remain amongst the wildest and most memorable you could ever see.
Joining Of Montreal for their tour, TEEN opened the show. The New York quartet delivered the kind of impressive, confident set you would expect from a headliner. Drawing heavily from the darker side of 80s electronic pop, their fitting cover of Gary Numan’s “Metal” was a major highlight of the night.