Live review: Of Montreal @ the Bluebird TheaterBy Billy Thieme | May 9th, 2011 | No Comments »
While their Sgt. Pepper’ed, more pastoral oeuvre has long since faded, some of the over-the-top erotic energy that the band is known for has also been eschewed in recent years. The pandemonium has calmed, in favor of a much more consistent blend of “Free Your Mind (And Your Ass WIll Follow)” Funkadelic and pre-“Purple Rain” Prince — though there was still a strong undercurrent of Beatles and Bowie. Barnes’ revived focus on the music was obvious, and welcomed.
The stage show was only slightly paired down, really. While previous gigs featured complex stage shows through which Barnes cavorted in Ziggy Stardust androgyny with foxes and pigs, this show was less surrealist burlesque and more glam/funk rock. There were still foxes, giant butterflies and pigs, of course, romping beneath psychedelic geometries projected on the band and colorful live video on a screen above them.
Oh, and there was also a repeating lucha libre theme, this time.
The fun started with the opening “Gronlandic Edit” that spun into “Suffer for Fashion” and didn’t slow down much for over an hour. The only time the energy on the stage faded was during a few songs performed by other band members — one that stood out was a crooned “My Funny Valentine” accompanied only by violin — while Barnes disappeared backstage. The others stood as mere placeholders as everyone waited for the frontman to return. When he did, so did the high.
Theatrics played out in the cramped space at the front of the stage through many songs: “Coquet Coquette” soundtracked the murder of two fox-people by a beast with a giant lobsterian claw. “Godly Intersex” featured two dancers dressed in stripper costumes with huge breasts alongside a giant disembodied head.
The band closed the set with a thundering performance of “Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse” and returned to play an encore of “Our Riotous Defects” and “She’s a Rejecter” that devolved into a stage-wide lucha match. Nearly all of the band members were eventually pushed off the stage to surf the audience, and then safely returned. The finale had all 13 actor/musicians dancing wildly together in a “Cotton Eyed Joe” hoedown.
Try as they might, it seems Of Montreal will never really rid themselves of “big top” surrealism. But maybe, if they want to address the sparse back third of the Bluebird and the show’s relocation from the larger Ogden Theatre, that’s probably a good thing.