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Review Tue Sep 28 2010

Review: of Montreal @ The Riviera 9/25/10

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of Montreal's Kevin Barnes (photos by Andy Keil)

Let's pretend Skeletal Lamping never happened. Last time of Montreal was in town, band leader Kevin Barnes gave a phoned-in, lackluster performance behind the release of the schizophrenic album. It appeared that the self proclaimed indie star had given up, no longer having fun on stage and recording an entire album of sexed up, completely self indulgent, pieces of songs. But their Saturday night show at the very same venue and the recent release of False Priest was a complete turnaround. "I was hoping tonight would feel just like this," he said in the middle of the show. So were we. Kevin Barnes is back.

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Barnes and fans (photos by Andy Keil)

Barnes (who writes and records nearly all of oM's albums solo) returned to form on False Preist with some assistance this time around from acclaimed producer Jon Brion. While it might not be the gem that Satanic Panic In The Attic (2004) or The Sunlandic Twins (2005) was, back are danceable melodies, pop hooks, and sing-along lyrics. It's by far his most polished album to date, but at the same time I have to agree with Pitchfork's review that "Brion's influence sounds less collaborative than cosmetic, as though Barnes showed up with a 95% complete album on his laptop and the duo merely set about punching up Of Montreal's characteristically thin sound. " The Skeletal Lamping trip off the deep end began in the second half of Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer (2007), which was a clear storytelling of the near demise of his marriage and his ultimate refuge in the transvestite persona of Gerogie Fruit. Maybe all along Barnes is telling us one long abstract story, or maybe his albums are just a reflection of the story that is his life. One thing is clear though, gone are the innocent days of twee, and here we are in a funked up, x-rated adulthood. But that doesn't mean we can't still dance.

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The always androgynous Barnes took the stage dressed in an assless apron and tights, and of course, his signature teal boots and make up, and opened the show with the new album's lead single, "Coquet Coquette." The stage set up was different than in the past, with the ever growing band pushed to the edges leaving plenty of room for an endless parade of props up front, as well as completely giving Barnes center stage--making it ever more clear that he is the star of the show. The stage show, while holding on to the endearing homemade feeling, was more legit and choreographed than in the past, and included fish-headed robots, huge pajama-ed skeleton heads, a camel monster, a giant silver robot and pig fucking (nothing surprising if you've ever seen them live). Barnes had plenty of time to show off his Prince-channeling falsetto in a set that consisted mostly of newer material, including a hand-holding duet with opener Janelle Monáe who guests on the song "Enemy Gene" (although, I was surprised she didn't join Barnes on stage for "Sex Karma" which he duets on the album with Solange Knowles). The crowd went wild for older songs like "She's A Rejecter" and "The Party's Crashing Us", yet shouted along to everything new and old. The encore closed out the night with a fun Michael Jackson tribute medley, in which the band was joined by Monáe's whole troupe for spectacle-ending party.

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Barnes and Monáe get down (photos by Andy Keil)

Janelle Monáe opening the evening was a perfect pairing — with similar artistic direction, she and Barnes have worked together guesting on each other's albums (he actually joined her on stage for her song "Make The Bus"), plus they have great chemistry together. It would be great if she would drop the sci-fi act though, because she's got plenty of star power and talent on her own and doesn't need to hide behind the Archandroid facade. While her full "futuristic" album was a genre-unfocused disappointment after hearing songs like "Tightrope" and "Cold War," her opening performance on Saturday was a delightful energetic surprise. Usually beginning her shows cloaked under a hood, the gorgeous soul singer surprised the crowd by appearing in the upper balcony, pompadour and all. With only a few lulls in her performance, she closed out the set strong, jumping into the crowd for an Animal House "Shout" moment on the song "Come Alive".

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Janelle Monáe (photos by Andy Keil)

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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