Or when a 5-headed rainbow dragon gives way to freshly de-cocooned golden butterfly-winged princesses? Or when the swordfish ninjas turn to evil deeds, pointing their shotgun limbs and driving away on all fours the footed-pj-clad skeleton bobble-heads? Or when the pink-feathered black angels dance themselves into oblivion, writhing on the floor until they expire?
I have no idea. But it was awesome.
Thursday night at the Pageant, Of Montreal melted our faces off with 18 songs from The Sunlandic Twins, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer, Skeletal Lamping and their 2010 psychedelic pop funk release, False Priest.
The night’s billing was a perfect recipe of beautiful crazy escalating into full-on freakout mayhem. Vampire-caped Janelle Monae opened, non-ironically rocking multi-era fashion with ‘30s black-and-white wingtips, a ‘40s pompadour and shoulder pads a la ‘80s Prince, dramatically painting a naked bum emblazoned with the word “love” during her set (a theme? well, our faces were melted off…). It was a theme foreshadowing her later duet with Barnes for “Enemy Gene”: "Love breaks the machine…/ there’s zombies licking your window… / ooohhhhh… / what can it mean”? What can it mean, indeed!
“Y’all ready for the GONG?” Yes!
Of Montreal appeared amid a haze of white smoke, three black-and-white anime video screens and four swordfish ninjas. First playing “I Feel Ya’ Strutter,” the band set the tone with lyrics “so freaked out” and “hey, I’m still way erect.” Yes, sexpot freakshow about sums the night up. “It’s all verbosity to me” is how they exited the stage pre-encore… well, perhaps it’s all empty sexual fetishism. Of course, Pitchfork routinely reduces them to “gratuitously syrupy saccharine pop.” Maybe so, maybe so. But I guess I like it sweet. And maybe Pitchfork itself should be reduced to just “pitch.” Hmf.
And regardless of your personal taste, a well-done sexpot freakshow will rock your world. “Let’s have bizarre celebrations,” the band suggests, because then, maybe we’ll “never die.” Oh, yeah. I’m in. And I didn’t even read Twilight. “Let’s all go together / let’s all melt down together”? Yep, sounds all right to me -- my face was already melting. “Silly”? “Daffy”? “Oversaturated,” as the Pitchfork dissenters say? Nah, no way. Barnes and his freak brigade take you through nearly 2 hours of insanity, none of it “frivolous.” Insanity is a serious business. “I want this night to distort me.” Hell yes.
Synthesizers, guitars, drums, video shows in triplicate, contortionist gods of all varieties and indie popstar-turned-nightmare granny-turned-towering purple alien lord make us want to “emote ‘til we’re dead,” never mind that we want to live forever in this acid bath. But the music rocks, too; it’s the music that lasts. It’s the pop, it’s the synth, it’s the psychedelic, it’s the electronically-infused, and while it inspires mad, sweaty dancing, it lingers like a beautiful recurring flashback.
Though we were loving this trip, the mid-show ballads were a perfect breather before the next round. A pre-“Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” pause is AOK… after all, you’re going to need all of your energy for the chemical-induced “moodshift” destined to follow. We’re not in a “crisis” here… nope. “Chemicals… don’t mess me up this time.”
“Dirty old shadow, stay away / don’t play your games with me,” Of Montreal concluded, sending a message to the naysaying pseudo-alt music reviewers, reminding us that synthpopfreakout is not a bad thing at all. We don’t need your negativity… “if you don’t hurt me then you die.” Well, you can’t hurt Of Montreal; in fact, the 3-song Michael Jackson medley encore showed us that if anything, the King(s) of Pop are alive and well.
Dear, sweet Of Montreal -- rock on, pop off, freak out, “stay high,” burn the place up and let your booty out. See ya next year in all your chaotic blazing glory. My face is ready.
I Feel Ya’ Strutter
Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games
Suffer for Fashion
Our Riotous Defects
Like a Tourist
Girl Named Hello
St. Exquisite’s Confessions
She’s a Rejector
Tonight (Sibylle Baier cover)
Casualty of You
Around the Way
Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse
For Our Elegant Caste
A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger
Michael Jackson medley of Thriller/Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’/PYT