of Montreal make it a memorable night in Boston

A review of of Montreal with Painted Palms at the Paradise Rock Club on May 1, 2011

, Contributing Writer

Shows can be memorable for a number of reasons: the songs, the performance, the audience, or the people you’re with. On Sunday night, Of Montreal’s performance at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club ultimately became memorable for very different reasons.

Taking the stage, the group looked ready to go with their trademark costumes and make-up. Of Montreal have always been theatrical. Whether during their lo-fi guitar driven early period, the keyboard driven mid-period, or their current David Bowie-inflected R&B, the common thread has been mastermind Kevin Barnes’ penchant for pageantry and dress-up. On Sunday night, Barnes came out in a purple suit and make-up, though this was just the first of three outfits he would don.

By the third song, the touring visual entertainment component of the show hit the stage. Throughout the course of the evening there were: wrestlers, some with USA colors others like Nacho Libre, with a referee to “call” the matches, people with crab claws, strange Batman suits with boobs, Captain America looking outfits with capes, and giant heads that looked suspiciously like the Hamburglar’s. This probably doesn’t cover everything, and many of these costumes and performers came out multiple times and mixed together in a free-for-all pageant that defines of Montreal’s concerts.

Of course, even with the visuals playing such a prominent role, the music is still a draw. The band was in fine, if not necessarily overwhelming form, moving through a set pulled mostly from their last three albums. They powered through straightforward rockers like “Suffer for Fashion” and “Coquete Coquette” as well as bass-driven funk numbers like “Gronlandic Edit” with ease, but struggled at times to recreate the frenetic yet distinct pop of more complex songs like “For Our Elegant Caste”.

The backing band behind Kevin Barnes was stellar, and although he’s been known to cycle through members he seems to know he has something special with this current lineup. They were given room to stretch with the songs, and Barnes often ditched the guitar for a strictly lead singer role. At one point, going back stage to change costumes yet again, Barnes turned the stage over the rest of the band as they performed an odd but strong rendition of Chet Baker’s “My Funny Valentine”.

The night ended in what turned out to be the most meaningful moment of the evening. The band left the stage after a prolonged outro to “She’s a Rejecter”, leaving slowly one-by-one. By the end, only the violinist/multi-instrumentalist was on stage, and he played “America the Beautiful” to close the night. No explanation was given and considering that they’ve been closing in this manner on occasion during the tour, it seemed like just another way Of Montreal keeps things interesting. Only after, leaving the venue, did we learn of the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had in fact been killed.

Earlier in the evening, Painted Palms opened the show with an energetic set. The band, who hail from San Francisco, delivered a mixture of sunshine Dream-Pop and Psychedelic rhythms, with a little electro thrown in for good measure. Certainly, there’s a little Animal Collective coursing through these guys’ veins. It was a pretty typical opening act experience; people dug the music, but didn’t know the songs. Much like of Montreal, Painted Palms clearly want to put on a show; it was danceable music and those that were willing were given an excuse to do so. Although their performance was somewhat overshadowed by what ultimately unfolded, they have a bright future, and will get their chance to be the takeaway story at shows in the future.

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