It was a deliciously cool Thursday night in Austin and the devoted gathered at the Mohawk once again for the return of of Montreal and its psychedelic glam rock/electronic dance party.
The opening band Christina Schneider’s Jepeto Solutions from New York City proved the perfect appetizer for the night’s headliners; the dynamic juxtaposition of Ms. Schneider’s folkish vocal delivery and Quentin Moore’s frenzied guitar work marks them as band to keep an eye on in the future.
While the release of each new of Montreal album, with their kaleidoscope of changing musical styles, allows the listener an invitation into Kevin Barnes current psychological headspace, the accompanying live shows are an altogether different beast; an elaborate phantasmagorical stage production that mixes music with the bizarre artistry of David Barnes; brother of Kevin. As the band played, a Pandora’s box of costumed performers sauntered upon the stage sporadically throughout the show; often engaged in their own personal dramas while animated images are cleverly projected on the them and the band. The whole endeavor maintained a homemade quality that contributes heavily to the fun of seeing this band live and since no show is exactly the same, it’s always exciting to see what they will come up with next.
Bounding on stage in full-on androgynous attire and blonde coiffured wig, Kevin and the current iteration of his band launched into the show with songs pulled heavily from their last album, Innocence Reaches, with the occasional deep cut from their rather sizable catalog thrown into the mix. While he spent many songs showing off his exuberant dance moves, Kevin did not shy away from switching to a guitar when the song demanded it. All the while, bewigged skull- headed creatures, cat- headed monks, a Yeti brandishing a sword, patriotic superheroes, aliens with tentacles, giant organs, and ethereal figures with gossamer wings danced upon the stage.
Over the years, Kevin, as the driving force behind of Montreal, has changed out his band members; one of the many similarities he shares with Prince, an obvious musical influence. While tonight’s band was suitably competent, they were also lacking in any discernible identity, serving as merely a backup band. It made me a little wistful for a time when his band members played a more integral part in the live show.
At the halfway point, Kevin left the stage for a costume change, returning shirtless but now wearing a white wig, looking a bit like a female version of Edgar Winter. If the crowd seemed a bit reserved before, perhaps not as familiar with some of the new songs, they were sent into a dancing frenzy once the band catapulted into a propulsive medley of fan favorites that climaxed with a multi-colored dragon spewing feathers into the ecstatic audience.
The band returned with a three song encore (Bassem Sabry/Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse/She’s a Rejecter) that hit the sweet spot that sent the crowd home satisfied, but hungry for more. I especially enjoyed the rockier version of She’s a Rejecter played tonight. As a longtime fan and frequent attender, tonight’s show did not disappoint.