Live: The Psychedelic Lunacy and High Production Values of Of Montreal


Of Montreal/Janelle Monáe
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Thursday, April 16

“I wanna do my dance. Can I do my dance? It’s called the Sophisticated Sissy.” And then Kevin Barnes does the Sophisticated Sissy, which is pretty aptly named, and is but one element in an overpowering barrage of visual stimuli: In addition to the neo-disco lights, the three giant projection screens, and his bedazzled bandmates (particularly the Legion of Doom guy on double-necked guitar), there are four actors/dancers whose various costumes/scenarios I can only begin to describe. (My notes include “Red priest bless crazy guy strips priest now two crazy guys,” “‘The Stash’ porno scene multi-pig spanking,” “Jovial prancing stormtrooper buddhas turned ninjas,” “Shirtless pink man distribute T-shirts,” and “Tiger/ninja standing 69 looks difficult.” Characters undressing other characters is a major theme.)

Music is also played: ludicrous, expertly groovy (band MVP: bassist) psych-pop from like 50 albums I’ve spent a decent amount of time with but still mostly refuse to separate into distinct recognizable songs, but I don’t mind this much, and the elated crowd minds it much less. The “You ain’t got no soul power” one is fantastic, as is the dance-party burner that begins “I spent the winter on the verge of a total breakdown while living in Norway.” Tonight we are all sophisticated sissies and stormtrooper buddhas turned ninjas. Do not attempt the tiger/ninja standing 69 at home.

Oh look, it’s our old friend Janelle Monáe, who is even more flabbergasting and fantastic now, swear to god. She’s added a slow-burn neo-grunge ballad in which she sings through a reverb-blasted robotic filter that renders her lyrics unintelligible, and she now stands on a chair during “Smile,” an eight-foot-tall cyber-priestess channeling Nat King Cole, and it just destroys. Do look into that No Doubt reunion, won’t you?

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