Grand Central Miami
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Better Than: Of Montreal's recorded material.
Of Montreal is one of those critically acclaimed bands whose dozen-album deep catalog is impossible to dive into. That is, unless you see them live. Such an occurrence will baptize you into the cult, screaming, "Amen!" after every one of the outfit's impossibly energetic numbers and leaving you counting down the days until you can listen to the next sermon.
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For the uninitiated and agnostic, Of Montreal is an art project/religious experience masterminded by Kevin Barnes.
The Athens, Georgia native has rotated a never-ending cast of musicians and performers over the last two decades to join him on stage. And Wednesday night at Grand Central saw him playing with a backing band of five.
Barnes' entrance was preceded by a costumed man who took off one mask to reveal another while shouting out, "This is a funny night for me. I travelled back in time from the future."
After pointing at some members of the audience and proclaiming which people were going to be hooking up and who will not be leaving the venue with their pants on, he introduced Barnes.
Barnes ran on to the stage. And from opening song, "Triumph of Disintegration," his falsetto voice and kinetic non-stop movement provided the best Prince imitation by any Caucasian this side of The Make-Up's Ian Svenonius.
But let us travel further into the past to opener Boogarins whose garage-rock-meets-psychedelia hits that sweet, sticky spot that'll have you looking through your phone for a contact who might be able to get you mushrooms. Immediately.
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Even with a guitar malfunction the four-piece from Brazil did its home country's long tradition of psychedelic music proud. Singer Fernando Almeida's angelic voice and the fuzzy guitars were reminiscent of lost cuts from Electric Ladyland except far trippier than even Hendrix could fly as the few lyrics in Boogarins' heavily instrumental songs are all in their native Portuguese.
As foreign as an unfamiliar language might be, headliner Of Montreal took the three-quarters-packed Grand Central crowd even further into alien terrain. Leading the audience in hand claps and relentless dancing, Barnes took his job as an entertainer seriously and also ridiculously.
Bombarded with men in skintight cow costumes, running on stage to hold up screens capturing 1970s era abstract animation, Barnes somehow kept all the attention on himself. Grooving to his band's space-cadet grooves, he alternated between strumming his guitar and jumping, up and down, with a tambourine for nearly the entire hour-and-a-half, 19-song set.
Barnes seemed to only rest before the encore and during a costume change leading into "Oslo in the Summertime," which saw him return to the stage on stilts in a white, crowned costume that also served as a movie screen while he sang about solstice-inspired insomnia.
During "St. Exquisite's Confession's" Barnes took off his shirt, drawing catcalls and teaching us all that no Crossfit class can provide you with as chiseled a physique as living the life of a rock star.
Listening to Of Montreal's albums doesn't do the act justice. It is like watching a 3D movie without special glasses. This is a band that needs to be seen to be heard.
Of Montreal's Setlist:
-"Triumph of Disintegration"
-"Requiem for O.M.M.2"
-"Spike the Senses"
-"Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider"
-"Faberge Falls for Shuggie"
-"For Our Elegant Caste"
-"Raindrop in my Skull"
-"St. Exquisite's Confessions"
-"Oslo in the Summertime"
-"The Party's Crashing Us"
-"Suffer for Fashion"
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