Of Montreal – El Paso – Club 101, Texas – 2007-11-05

Of Montreal
Where: El Paso – Club 101, Texas.

When: 2007-11-05

It truly was an eventful night at Club 101 in El Paso, Texas. MGMT (also known as The Management) opened the night with a great set of 70s psychedelic rock-influenced music. They featured a band that created grandiose progressions paced by the shimmering guitars and distinctive synths. For an opening act, they were rather impressive.

Next up was the rap duo of Grand Buffet, a couple of white guys from Pittsburgh that know how to put on a good show. Their brand of humorous, sardonic rap was something to appreciate. They pay homage to old rap groups in that they only use beats and microphones. One of them even dropped a free-style—without beats—on how parents should handle finding out that their son/daughter is using drugs. Needles to say, it was comical, yet distressing.

Monday night was the first time I’d experienced Of Montreal live (this was their first time playing in El Paso) and it surely won’t be my last time either. Kevin Barnes and Co. proved that some shows can be utter exuberance, jubilation and energy. Whether it be their cat theme (apparently prepared because they had “just seen an old movie where a millionaire finds hot girls and then kills them to feeds to his cats” —Mr. Barnes words, not mine,) their colorful, vibrant costumes or their astounding stage presence.

What’s even more remarkable is that with all of the hoopla that goes along with an Of Montreal show—striking lights, unique and different videos in the background, the aforementioned wacky costumes—you can’t disregard their brand of electronic, psychedelic pop/rock that they have wonderfully mastered. As a front man alone, Barnes has the inclusive package—personality, style, dancing ability, grandeur, enthusiastic vigor and of course, the musical aptitude.

They opened with a Verdi-like piece before ripping into a great rendition of “Rapture Rapes the Muses.” The opening acts (especially Grand Buffet) kept hinting that Of Montreal “was going to rip it” and they were correct; ripped it, they did. Though they didn’t play “Suffer for Fashion” from their 2007 spectacular album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, they did play the next three songs, “Sink the Seine,” “Cato as a Pun,” and “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” in order. They did this with the same intensity that the album possesses, even following the same transitions.

Unfortunately, since this was a small venue and the tickets were very cheap ($15 for two solid opening acts and Of Montreal) they didn’t play too many songs from the new album. It would have been fun and interesting for them to ‘rip into’ the ethereal and mesmerizing, “The Past is a Grotesque Animal” but c’est la vie.

Everyone loved the popular, “The Party’s Crashing Us” and they also included “I Was Never Young,” “Oslo in the Summertime” and “October is Eternal.” The band still played “She’s a Rejecter” and performed a great, raucous version of “Labyrinthian Pomp” off the new album.

The band came back for an amazing encore and by the end of the concert the crowd was in a state of exaltation. During a time when there is so much bad going on in my life and everything seems to be falling apart, it certainly made me appreciate life and all of its struggles because of this performance. The topper was after the show when all of the band came back out—much to the chagrin of the grumpy, rude club workers—to sign autographs, take pictures and meet whatever of the crowd was left.

All of the members of the quintet signed my poster and Mr. Barnes himself even told me, “hang in there, it will be all right.” The fact that these people are still just ordinary, genuine and real people—aside from all of the flair on stage—is something that is equally refreshing and inspiring.