Of Montreal Concert, or Indie Drag/Puppet Show?

Author: Yasmin Ettobi

Header photo courtesy of the artist’s Facebook page. All photos taken by Joshua Simons.

As I entered Neumos on a chilly Sunday night, many questions were rapidly coursing through my head. First and foremost, I wondered how the band would choose which songs they would choose to put on their setlist when they have 23 different albums to choose from. My bewilderment soon turned to fascination as I laid eyes on the merch table, where bright and eclectic statues created by front man Kevin Barnes were selling for around $50.

With wonder still swirling within me, any thoughts I may have been thinking were wiped from my mind the moment Portland’s Reptaliens took the stage. Not only were the stellar vocals, impressive guitar solos, and pristine basslines incredible to hear live, but every few songs, the audience’s attention would be diverted by the occasional dancer/percussionist that would take the stage. Every time this mystery person would make an onstage appearance, they would be wearing a different sort of costume, from playing the bongos as a crocodile in a business suit to performing a strip tease as a pope in an old person costume. As a whole, Reptaliens made sure that there was never a dull moment throughout their set.

With the level of wackiness already reaching dangerously high levels, the moment of Montreal took the stage, the kookiness of the night blasted through the roof. The moment 44-year-old front man Kevin Barnes took the stage dressed in full drag, he made it clear that Seattle was in for a musical performance of weirdness and whimsy.

Opening up the night with the song “Soft Music/Juno Portraits of The Jovian Sky” from their most recent record, Barnes played the role of a confident and masterful drag queen to an impressive extent. The front row, comprised mostly of enthusiastically glitter-clad young adults, went absolutely wild as Barnes reached down at certain points to hold their hands and give the occasional hug.

Midway through the show, Barnes stopped singing to share a couple thoughts concerning the disheartening political state of the country, and shared a message of love, empathy and compassion for the US. It was a heartwarming message, and followed by a cover of “Our Day Will Come” by Ruby & The Romantics, it made for probably the sweetest segment of the show.

Aside from the musical aspect of the show, Of Montreal put a ridiculous amount of thought into the visuals of their performance. Every single song came with a new set of background dancers, all dressed in the most peculiar way possible. There were green puppets, fish faces, a devil in a leotard, and SO much more. Between songs, Barnes would make a mad dash offstage to quickly change outfits and would emerge looking flawless and charismatic.

Of Montreal’s set came to a close with a three-song encore of some of their most popular and danceable tracks, such as “Gronlandic Edit.” The night ended on a sweaty, fatigued, yet incredibly joyous note as Barnes and his band left the stage to thunderous applause.

In its entirety, the amount of effort that went into of Montreal’s concert was truly impressive and showed how much everyone involved in bringing it to life cared about giving the crowd the most spectacular show possible.

YASMIN ETTOBI | #1 Gronlandic Edit Stan | KXSU Music Reporter

For more photography by Joshua Simons, check out his Website and Instagram.

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