of Montreal with Lily and Horn Horse

March 10th, 2020 Majestic Theater Madison WI
by John Noyd
Posted: Mar 2020
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Crowd-surfing Mime at the of Montreal Show Madison - photo by Russell Kershaw

Crowd-surfing Mime at the of Montreal Show Madison - photo by Russell Kershaw

A musical cornucopia brimming in kaleidoscopic show-stoppers, of Montreal has long put the sizzle in the glitter on record and in concert. Riding high on the new, love-struck, “UR FUN,” the antics of the band’s quasi-psychedelic romantics were bright and shiny when they visited Madison’s Majestic Theater. Frivolous mischief fitted into power-pop riffs with radiant stadium reach, the paisley pranksters threw a multi-sensory extravaganza that leaped, slithered and grooved from transcendent frenzies to churning jams with barely a breath in between.

Beginning with a dark stage and a recording of a weirdly whimsical, “I’m Glad To Be Me,” the lights came up to reveal three giant skulls washed in swirling colors that suggested a Mexican Day of the Dead fiesta, as the band and dancers kicked off the evening with, “Peace To All Freaks.” Flamboyant frontman Kevin Barnes’ hyper-verbose songs needed no introduction and defied explanation as the spectacle melted time and space joining old songs next to new in a vivid mythology versed in gender politics and accompanied by anthropomorphic gorgons, crowd-surfing mimes, middle-finger puppets and fun-loving Furbies.

Whether it’s Love, Life, God or Death, of Montreal turns it into a celebration, a cash-bar cabaret where troubles are trampled and reality unravels, reveling in rapturous revelations. While a raucous, “Different For Girls,” and extra bouncy, “Disconnect the Dots,” appeared early in their set the night centered around the new album as the talented cast of entertainers tore through seven of the ten songs including a cathartic, “20th Century Schizofriendic Revengeoid Man,” saved for the four-song encore. Live, “UR FUN,” burst with unbridled joy and well-earned fury. Even the dark, uncharacteristically blunt, “Don’t Want To Die in America,” came across more empowering than defeatist, channeling spangled anarchy back into the giddy, “Polyaneurism,” before pulling out some deep cuts and closing with the sparkling, spirited, “The Party’s Crashing Us,” from 2005’s The Sunlandic Twins.

In a rare, non-singing moment Kevin summed up the evening saying near the end of the concert, “We may always have a government run by horrible assholes, but at least we have each other.” The opener, an off-beat and provocative Lily and Horn Horse, readied of Montreal’s audience with a wonderfully rambunctious set that fit perfectly with of Montreal’s absurdist’s work ethic.