of Montreal, a critically acclaimed indie rock/psychedelic pop band from Athens, Georgia took the stage at The Haunt on Thursday, Oct. 24. A crowded group of mostly students enjoyed an extremely fun and wacky performance.
Locate S,1, a band with close ties to of Montreal, opened for an hour as the crowd trickled in, playing a few upbeat indie rock songs. I enjoyed their performance, although I found their repertoire very repetitive. The band had good chemistry and the members had solid instrumental performances. Their last two songs were the best of the bunch, with some catchy vocals and a noise-rock-esque breakdown capturing the audience’s appreciation.
Led by frontman and songwriter Kevin Barnes, of Montreal took the stage and began playing a flurry of some of their most well-known songs, including “Lysergic Bliss” and “Gronlandic Edit.” Barnes has developed a reputation for wild performances, representing alter-ego characters, bringing theatrical moments to emphasize a moment on stage, utilizing backup dancers and costumes … the whole works if you will. In the spirit of Halloween, three backup dancers took the stage with the band, with two skeleton-clad attendants wearing mind control goggles flanking a giant Inca-style mask with an operated mouth. This certainly set the tone of the performance. As Barnes finished the last of “Gronlandic Edit,” the band and audience took a collective breath.
of Montreal continued their set by playing an eclectic mix of songs from their long discography. Highlights of mine included “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games,” “It’s Different for Girls” and “You Do Mutilate?.” I was particularly impressed by how surprisingly funky the group was. They are generally known for their indie approach to rock and pop music, using walking basslines and dreamy keyboard tones, but Barnes also has deep musical influences in funk. On a few songs, of Montreal was very groovy, keeping a funk-pop jam going throughout. It is that level of musicianship and musical depth that kept the audience guessing throughout the show.
The backup crew was very active throughout the show, running onto the stage during several songs boasting completely new bunches of costumes. Some interesting costumes included glittery ice pigs with 70s workout gear, foxes and rainbow wigs. During “It’s Different For Girls,” a song about the institutionalized sexism and belittlement of women, a leather-clad Catwoman whipped a feeble Batman around the stage. While I thought that moment was a bit lurid, “It’s Different for Girls” is not a song meant for comfort.
of Montreal closed the show with a three-song encore, the pearl of which was “Heimdalsgate Like A Promethian Curse.” The combination of supremely catchy vocals, groovy instrumentation and the wild presence of Barnes and his band made for an electrifying closing number. I left The Haunt with my ears ringing and their songs stuck in my head.
James Robertson is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.