Of Montreal / Oct. 13, 2007 / New York (Roseland Ballroom)
When Of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes stepped on stage at New York's Roseland Ballroom on Saturday night (Oct. 13), he was genuinely surprised and pleased to be greeted by the frenetic, sold-out crowWhen Of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes stepped on stage at New York's Roseland Ballroom on Saturday night (Oct. 13), he was genuinely surprised and pleased to be greeted by the frenetic, sold-out crowd. “We’ve never played in front of so many awesome people before; it’s a bit overwhelming, actually.”
For those not already familiar with the Athens, GA-based band, it may seem like Of Montreal is a bit of an overnight sensation. They earned an exuberant Pitchfork review one day and Barnes played a Las Vegas gig in the nude the next. But the five-piece ensemble formed almost ten years ago, and has evolved through several iterations since Barnes’ twee-tinged acoustic days. The band's present live show, meanwhile, is over-the-top and befitting a diva, marked by white-hot illumination, sprawling catwalks, and Greek histrionics, with a few wardrobe changes to boot.
The Roseland show comes as part of a tour showcasing Of Montreal’s latest album, the impregnable Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? which bowed at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart in February, shortly after it was released. But the band wove in old favorites like “My British Tour Diary” and the viscerally pleasing “Requiem for O.M.M.2.” In the midst of all that, Barnes was also able to showcase three new songs tentatively slated for release in 2008 on the band's next full-length.
“Sometimes it feels like it’s really difficult to catch up with yourself because you have to be in this hibernative state when you’re on tour,” Barnes had explained earlier that day. “I guess if we had more energy or amphetamines or something we could go into the studio before sound check and actually try to do something creative.”
Of Montreal’s live show has actually managed to become an outlet for that artistic energy. In-song dramatic vignettes centered around Barnes abounded, including an inane pigskin toss with shoulder pads and all, ninjas creeping about like moon-faced arachnids and an egregious mock sword fight. All the while, three giant video screens vacillated between point-of-view pickguard shots and trippy cartoon renditions of primates spiraling out a man’s head.