Of Montreal’s Organic Reinvention

Terminal West, King Plow, #ATL’s artsy Westside: “Obsidian currents, they will devour you.” A man who ate his band stands shirtless before me in Atlanta, Georgia, his ripped physique somehow masking an otherwise obvious femininity, unrivaled actually in the male-dominated sport called ROCK FRONTMAN. What he became.

I’m a big fan of that band, that formerly electronically unquantifiable Athens weird. Hired hands he has called them in the press, pawns playing a part in one of his theatrical plays. They were allowed to chime in, to join in on the obscure sounds invented solely by the genius, Kevin Barnes. The master yearns for your adoration.

Kev has a deep repertoire of well-written songs, I recall, soon after an MC brings him to the stage for a solo intro. Vivid mandalas contain a swirling display of creatures within as the new stuff starts it. Speaking of the material, Of Montreal is suddenly much more of a straight forward rock act than a, “Let’s pretend we don’t exist.”


Projections onto dancers, umbrellas, Day of the Dead and Kevin, the sultan singer songwriter stripped down and traditional, much more organic, less key-driven. Retro rock driving, wailing, romping guitar, faces and eyes projected; it’s still art.

Somewhat danceable but the beats are long gone. They have been replaced by an almost Nashville-like twang, at times and the hot guitar licks of Bennett Dean Lewis. George Harrison too could have made many of the tracks on the latest record, a sort of Beatles gone bitter and further flung foray into Kevin’s twisted little pretty heart.

He has a beautiful voice and the accompaniment nails their parts and it is certainly good songwriting. Is it still fun, though? Does the excitement I once felt wholly exist?

Little less than I’ve ever seen him (formerly more of a “them”) deliver before but still a dreamy show, and the feather guns go pop-pop as mellow mantra rock and twang-twang finally melts away into a ringing guitar and full crescendo rock frenzy.

We’ve seen it all before, though, and I’m left wanting. “We’ll have bizarre celebrations. Let’s have bizarre celebrations…” again…someday…someday…

Fan Tom Murphy tells me he has seen 200-300 shows. He rates Of Montreal as a top five live act, having seen them in Maryland, Athens, GA, St. Louis and now Atlanta, and he leaves me as I do you with this, “They are amazingly different every time.”

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photography by Michael Santini