Of Montreal playing NC is no surprise to those that are fans of their music. In fact, they seem to play here on a yearly basis, whether they have a new album to support or not. One of my best friends, Patrick, and I were there almost every time. While I have been a big fan of them since 2004 (roughly between when Satanic Panic in the Attic and The Sunlandic Twins were released), I must admit that my attention paid to them has slipped in recent years. The Cat’s Cradle venue was their main home when their tour came through NC, so when they decided to make a stop in Raleigh at the Lincoln Theatre in 2015, I was very excited at the prospect of having a favorite band of mine play in my hometown, but I’d also be lying if I said that not having to make two separate 45 minute drives back and forth from Carrboro wasn’t appealing as well. Unfortunately, the live show left a lot to be desired. [Peep Negadave’s review here.] I recall the crowd turnout being low, and since Lincoln Theatre is bigger than Cat’s Cradle, I would’ve expected a much bigger turnout for a band of that caliber. The performance itself was pretty lackluster as well, which was very unlike their reputation. After this show, my interest in Of Montreal had started to subside.
Fast forward three years into the future, the very same friend and I decided to go see Of Montreal return to their familiar stomping grounds at the Cradle. While walking up to the venue, I began to take notice of the lack of people around me which began to worry me that I might have a repeat of three years prior back in Raleigh. “Have Of Montreal sunk in into the pits of irrelevance where a lot of popular indie bands from the 2000s now resides?” Those doubts were squashed when we walked into the Cradle to see the big crowd already inside watching the opening act. Apparently, we were fashionably late. The opening act (whose name escapes me) seemed very out of place by musical styles. Their tempo was slow with vocals reminiscent of Bjork. Unfortunately, this style did them little favors with the large crowd that was only getting larger, with their sound seemingly beginning to be drowned out by hundreds of conversations being had by the crowd. They apparently had limited material to perform, with their last song having enough tempo and volume to hush the crowd and gain their attention. Unfortunately, it was their last song.
The venue filled out even more once they knew Of Montreal was set to take the stage. I was happy to see an even mixture of thirty-somethings, like me, and a much younger crowd. Once Of Montreal took the stage, the collective cheers of a nearly full house rang out. Something that was drastically missing from their show in Raleigh. When Kevin Barnes, who is, essentially, Of Montreal, showed up in an outfit that was equal parts a creation of something from a John Waters’ movie and an Andy Warhol painting, I knew we were in a for fun, energetic show that I associated with this band. Majority of the songs performed were from their latest album, White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood, an album I’m unfamiliar with, however, it’s more dancy approach was a welcome surprise. While the new material was foreign to me, the spectacle and theatrics of the show were not. It is not uncommon for random masked and costumed figures to appear on stage to interact with Kevin, or to interpretively dance to a theme of that current song. That night’s show even had two Chinese style dragons parading back and forth on the limited real estate that is the Cat’s Cradle stage. Massive projections enveloped the stage at all times with pop-art patterns or videos of drag queens. No Of Montreal show would be complete without multiple outfit/costume changes from Kevin. Very few songs were performed from albums that I was familiar with, but some of my favorites from Hissing Fauna were played as well as the obligatory “Wraith Pinned to the Mist” (AKA The Outback Steakhouse song). There were also more than a couple of songs played from the album, Skeletal Lamping, which conveniently happened to be the last album I was familiar with.
Much like any live performance, the crowd is what makes the show. This night’s crowd, which consisted of older and younger fans, were the driving force. It was refreshing to see concertgoers dancing and jumping to the music since NC is notorious for tame and reserved crowds. While I post up in the back at most club shows nowadays, I can still feed off the energy from the crowd that is in front of me, and that energy was such in full force that it reminded me of the old days. I was reminded of how much fun a concert can be simply based on the crowd around me. This show definitely rejuvenated my love for Of Montreal, so much that I’ve started listening to the all the material they’ve released on my hiatus, but will also make it a point to see them again live the next time they stop by Carrboro. When it comes to Of Montreal, it’s either Cat’s Cradle or nothing at all.
Gronlandic Edit – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
Paranoiac Intervals / Body Dysmorphia – White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood
Plastis Wafer – Skeletal Lamping
(first half only)
Writing the Circles / Orgone Tropics – White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood
Sex Karma (Solange Knowles song) – False Priest
Wraith Pinned to the Mist (and Other Games) – The Sunlandic Twins
(first half only)Sophie Calle Private Game / Every Person Is a Pussy, Every Pussy Is a Star! –
White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood
It’s Different for Girls – Innocence Reaches
Plateau Phase / No Careerism No Corruption – White Is Relic/Irrealis MoodCome Wander With Me – Bonnie Beecher cover
Soft Music / Juno Portraits of the Jovian Sky – White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood
For Our Elegant Caste – Skeletal Lamping
Touched Something’s Hollow – Skeletal Lamping
An Eluardian Instance – Skeletal Lamping
(first half only)
A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger – Hissing Fauna, Are Your the Destroyer?
Gallery Piece – Skeletal Lamping
Let’s Relate – Innocence Reaches