[Photos and words by Rez Avissar]
Well, there were no white horses this time, no Kevin Barnes full-frontal nudity, and only a handful of wardrobe changes. But of Montreal definitely brought the party to Music Hall of Williamsburg for three nights of their wild freak show/celebration.
Looking at photos from last fall's Roseland gig, it's clear that they chose to play a more intimate venue and a (relatively) stripped-down show. Going to an of Montreal show these days comes with built-in expectations of Flaming Lips-level antics and grandiosity. Music Hall holds about 550, though, while Roseland holds 3500, and the stage is a fraction of the size. What I'm wondering, however, is why the setlists were shorter than their past gigs. If playing to your most devout fans, why not treat them to more? When I saw Broken Social Scene at Bowery several years ago they played for three hours with not an attention span lost. Still, the show packed at least 20 or so hand picks into almost 2 hours.
of Montreal is at their best when they're most unabashedly up-front about that brand of dark, sugary pop they've crafted, and when the opening bass line of "Gronlandic Edit" dropped guitarist Bryan Poole asked "are you ready to party?" while the crowd was already a dancing frenzy. The awesome "Id Engager" and "Sentence of Sorts" drew similar responses, and the crowd, including the sea of cute girls in the front, were more than happy to dance and get excited. The band opened with "The Past Is A Grotesque Animal" which was a curious choice and probably an offering to the die-hards and the fans who bemoaned its absence from the Roseland show.
Barnes and his band are now seasoned professionals. Their troupe hoists them onto their shoulders, fondles and paints the members at will and they still manage to hit every note. Their versatility shows through in their wide repertoire of covers, nailed so consistently that the band may rank as one of the best cover bands of all time. They closed with a cover of Bowie's "Moonage Daydream" with Janelle Monae, and an insane guitar solo [anyone know who that was?]. They are one of the most accomplished bands in indie pop and this show, like all of their shows, was an all-out resplendent party.