Live Review: of Montreal with Painted Palms & Beat Connection@ Showbox at the Market 5/11

photo by Christopher Meister

The Showbox shook Wednesday night. It was to turn out to be a very strange night, but that would have to wait until headliner, of Montreal took the stage.

Opening things up were Seattle’s Beat Connection.  An eager crowd gathered around before the two members as they took the stage in a cloud of smoke. Their distinctive brand of laptop funk pleased the crowd immensely. People danced, clapped, and shouted. The room seemed filled with joy as the band members mixed occasional live instruments with the infectious dance music that came pumping from their computers.

photos by Christopher Meister

Up next were Painted Palms, who recently signed with Secretly Canadian. Hailing from San Francisco, the band is a duo in the studio, but a five piece live. On stage, they come off much concise than on record. It’s easy to get lost in the collage style noise of their recordings, but live their songs shone like bright pop beacons. It was a bit exhilarating to watch them play. The sound thudded through the room, and the songs swirled about in a way that was heady and exciting. “Canopy” in particular, with its samples and repetitions sounded great. They were handpicked by of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes to open this tour, so you know they must be good.

photos by Jill Rachel Evans

Finally, of Montreal were up. Band members came onstage dressed in red robes, and proceeded to high five each other. They started to play “Suffer For Fashion,” and people in butterfly costumes joined the band onstage. This was to become something of a trend. It was a night of costumed anarchy and general strangeness.

During “For Our Elegant Caste,” a number of people took the stage waving signs in a manner that seemed meant to mock Fred Phelps, and his Westboro Baptist Church. During ‘”Gronlandic Edit,” a woman dressed as a bride came out hurling glitter, and then grappled with her apparent suitor for the rest of the song. “Like A Tourist” featured a three person wrestling match. These are only a few examples of the circus that was on stage that night.

It’s true that the music mostly served as a highlight for the onstage antics, but that’s not to say there weren’t musical highlights. “Slave Translator” was fantastic and noisy, and immediately after “Coquette Coquette” was just as awesome. Of course, the druggy madness (heralded by men in pig costumes) returned during the middle of that song, but it still sounded fantastic. Kevin Barnes’ guitar playing was epic.

During the third and final costume change, while Barnes was offstage, a couple band members, duet-ed on a touching cover of the Frank & Nancy Sinatra classic “Somethin’ Stupid.” It was a tender moment, and a nice respite from the madness. The rest of the band came back, and tore through a number of great songs, including “Bunny Ain’t no Kind of Rider. That song, with it’s shouts of “you ain’t got no soul power” riled the crowd up, like putty in Barnes’ hands.

They closed the main set in a haze of confetti with “Sink The Seine” and “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse.” The pigs that first appeared during “Coquette Coquette” came back to egg the crowd on. They did a few bits of improv, and then the band came back for “Our Riotous Defects,” complete with backup dancers. The point of the song’s line “your ass is crazy, girl” was well made.

They closed the night with “She’s a Rejector,” turned into a blistering funk jam that tore the roof off the place. It was the perfect blast of sustained psychedelic noise to end the night. of Montreal put on one of the strangest shows imaginable, but it was delirious in all the right ways, and absolutely fantastic.

photos by Christopher Meister

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