Of Montreal’s music is bubblegum pop after the bubble has popped, equally comfortable with teasing synth driven pop songs, dancey bass grooves, and the occasional mid-set noise freakout. Their live show at the Charleston Pour House perfectly captured this eclectic style, featuring choreographed dance moves along with suggestive and elaborate visuals, wild costume changes, and even a giant animatronic rodent puppet.
Prior to the start of the show, five separate members of the crowd, ranging in age from late teens to late 50’s, enthusiastically shared that Of Montreal’s last appearance in Charleston was the best live show they had ever seen. It takes a very special band to make this kind of impact on their fans, and the energy was infectious until the moment the lights dimmed.
The show opened with all the band members coming on stage in black robes billowing smoke from the hoods, while a rumbling electronic noise piece and projected satanic symbols rounded out a surprisingly brooding scene. After about a minute of tense and somewhat confused stillness, frontman Kevin Barnes tore off his robe to reveal a maid outfit and full on clown makeup as the band kicked into its typical driving pop. Barnes’s elaborate, drag-influenced costume changes, along with the band’s psychedelic background projections and comically sexualized choreographed dancers, carried this contradictory energy throughout the entirety of the show.
Of Montreal offers no one in the venue a chance for a breather, with driving hits from 2016’s let’s relate to older works like Gronlandic Edit feeding into and through one another during a nonstop set. The show is incredibly technical from a musical standpoint, requiring flawless execution and communication from the band members, but pulled off perfectly into an expansive wall of sound. Meanwhile, Barnes’s singing, dancing, stripping, and strutting reels the audience into his euphoric frenzy, while the band’s occasional breakdown into vamping noise or funk breakdowns keeps the show varied and- most of all- fun.
Everyone in the crowd left the venue that night on dance-wearied legs, with an impressive layer of glitter and feathers on every part of their body. Of Montreal provides a captivating show, making the audience truly feel immersed in the music, the spectacle, and the fun of it all, right down to the glitter.
Written by Geoffrey Gill