By Michelle Carrera, Muse Staff Writer
Fresh off a two-night stint at NYC’s famed Webster Hall, Of Montreal seized the Paradise on Sunday for a sold-out show that cemented their reputation as the most theatrical band in indie rock.
Opening act Kishi Bashi kicked off the show with his genre-mashing songs that melded his virtuosic violin playing within a catchy pop context. His one-man show alternated between beat boxing and singing as he strummed his violin like a guitar. Playing cuts off his debut album 151a, his performance resonated with the crowd as they whooped and cheered after every song instead of resorting to the polite clapping usually reserved for opening acts.
Next in the line-up was Swedish indie pop artist Loney, Dear who put on a stunning, albeit slightly repetitive set. Perched on stools at opposite ends of the stage, singer Emil Svanängen and an accompanying accordion player performed a subdued, acoustic set that was at odds with the extravagant show that lay ahead. Svanängen delicately crooned over his folk-tinged songs but the crowd, decked out in neon gear, fur vests and glow paint, seemed restless to start dancing.
When the lights dimmed, a thunderous cheer erupted from the crowd as the multi-instrumentalists of Of Montreal- all seven of them- trickled onto the stage. As the first static notes of “Gelid Ascent” came on, there was a mesmerizing outburst of light as trippy designs were projected upon four screens on and above the stage. The set relied heavily on songs off their newest effort Paralytic Stalks, and although the lyrical content was darker and these songs lacked the manic disco-funk of 2010’s False Priest, the theatrics created a chaotic atmosphere in which the crowd reviled.
Less than a minute into the opening song, dozens of balloons were dropped on the crowd, and throughout the set, the band also threw in pig-headed actors in bodysuits for good measure. Ringleader Kevin Barnes, decked out in a ruffled red shirt and matching red pants, kept the banter short and instead marched into song after song. When not perched at his keyboard or playing a riff on center stage, Barnes was all raucous energy as he swept across the stage in his signature dance moves.
Of Montreal’s 18-song set reached into some back catalog, but songs off 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer like “She’s a Rejecter” and “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse” garnered the biggest response from the crowd as Barnes worked them up into one frenzied, dancing mass.
Ten albums in, Of Montreal prove they are still an ever-evolving collective, as well as a thoroughly unapologetic and enthralling performance.