TVD Live: of Montreal with Loney Dear at the 9:30 Club, 4/3

The statement “You had to be there” is definitely fitting when describing an of Montreal concert experience.  The band is notorious for their insanely extravagant, ridiculously over-the-top live shows. 

Suffice it to say, their set on Tuesday night at the 9:30 Club lived up to any expectations one would have going into an of Montreal show.  The thought of trying to describe what went down earlier this week is a rather daunting task, but I will try my hardest to do the show justice.

The first artist of the night to perform was Kishi Bashi, multi-instrumentalist K Ishibashi, who is perhaps best known for being one of the members of of Montreal. Unfortunately, I arrived too late to catch his solo set, but arrived just in time for Loney Dear to take the stage prior to of Montreal.

A fellow Polyvinyl recording artist, the Swedish singer-songwriter’s set was intimate and simple, quite the contrast from of Montreal’s subsequent performance. Accompanying singer Emil Svanängen on stage was Susanna Johansson, who played the occasional accordion and provided vocal accompaniment.

Also present on the stage were looping pedals and pitch shifters, helping Svanängen add texture to his live show. Performing without a backing band, the Swedish musician, whose music has garnered comparisons to the likes of Bon Iver and Andrew Bird, used an assortment of drums and cymbals for percussion.

Despite the modest set-up, Svanängen’s performance had an ethereal, powerful quality that left the audience silent and attentive—one might say you could hear a pin drop for the majority of the set. Also, while melancholia seemed to be the prominent theme in most of his songs, Svanängen proved to be quite the personality, frequently talking to the crowd and prompting them to sing along and (quite impressively) harmonize with him during later parts of his performance.

Following Svanängen’s set were show headliners of Montreal. While their name may indicate otherwise, the band doesn’t hail from the great North, but rather, they come from Athens, Georgia. Touring in support of their eleventh studio album, Paralytic Stalks, released earlier this year, the band would play a set full of the electro-psychedelic-indie-pop songs for which they’ve come to be known and widely loved.

Again, fully describing all of the on-stage antics is an impossible task (please see glorious photographs to gain a better understanding of what I mean), but just know that a) there was a lot of really weird stuff going on, and b) I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Performer extras in full body suits crowd surfed, dressed up as pigs and ninjas, wore gas masks, fought on-stage, and held a variety of props that projected moving images, among (many) other things. At one point some giant white, sea creature-like being was on-stage and, much to my excitement, balloons and confetti were thrown into the audience throughout various parts of the show. Even the band members got in on the action, when guitarist Bryan Poole, guitar in his hands and some sort of weird glittery mask thing on his face, laid on his back and crowd-surfed into the back of the audience.

Although of Montreal’s set was quite the visual spectacle, it must be noted that the band’s live performance was also on-point. The first half of the eight-piece band’s set primarily consisted of new material, but it was the latter part of their show that seemed to get the strongest crowd response.

The usually bright lights and “Yellow Submarine”-esque visuals projected on the many screens on stage were moderately tame during my personal favorite, “The Past is a Grotesque Animal,” a cut off of 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? that clocks in at nearly 12 minutes long. The crowd was also especially receptive to upbeat songs like “She’s a Rejecter,” as well as the encore, which consisted of a medley of songs from Skeletal Lamping, released in 2008.

“I have to ask you… Did you have a good time?” asked lead singer Kevin Barnes, as he teasingly took off his gray blazer and unbuttoned his pink ruffled blouse toward the end of the concert. Not surprisingly, the crowd responded with resounding cheers and applause as the band went on to end the evening with “Gronlandic Edit.”

I later left the show confused and in awe of what I had just witnessed, meaning that of Montreal had once again played a concert that was far from disappointing. The band members never fail to put on a memorable show that, while full of absurdities, also delivers musically.

Photos by Liz Gorman

Kishi Bashi (First Opener)

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