Of Montreal, Grand Buffet, DJ Sux + Atom 40 Watt Club Athens, GA- 3/24
You surf jambands.com and flip the glossy pages of Relix to keep abreast of all the latest happenings and headier developments in the world of music. The prevailing positive of this community is the open mindedness, in that folks that feast on Phish, Widespread Panic, and Umphrey’s McGee have made room for bands that don’t necessarily jam, like Flaming Lips, Wilco, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. You see the embrace in festival line-ups and friend’s iPod shuffles. It’s good.
With an open mind, and admitted fervent anticipation, I stood in a line well before the doors were opened, hoping the room wouldn’t reach capacity (at least until I got inside). Fresh off multiple must-see performances at SXSW and reported sell-outs in Los Angeles and New York I was certain that Of Montreal’s return to their home base in Athens would mean a packed 40 Watt, and more than a handful of unhappy ticketless kids listening from the sidewalk. Exchanging cash for a hand stamp I slipped through the door with a smile and prepared for an evening of sugarcoated psychedelia.
The opening act was a pair of emcees, Lord Grunge and Grape-A-Don, from Pittsburgh, PA who call themselves Grand Buffet. They delivered tongue-in-cheek rhymes laced with social commentary over simple, thick beats. When Don, sporting a Billy Idol tour shirt circa Rock the Cradle of Love asked, “Do you know what the opposite of God is?” none of the crowd’s varied responses came close to identifying their answer: “A Payday bar. You know why? They never give you shit,” adds Grunge in what was just a series of segues from hysterical banter into unorthodox call and response and story time raps, culminating in the duo’s immensely entertaining “Let’s Go Find the Cat.” Yes, the song is every bit as great as it’s title suggests.
A forgettable DJ set from Pylon’s Michael Lachowski lived up to its name and was widely ignored. Sandwiched in the middle there was no avoiding the scene by being fashionably late or ducking out early. We endured.
When Of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes emerged from backstage wearing a snow-white wedding dress— rainbow glitter eye shadow visible behind the veil (and accenting the visages of fellow bandmates Matt Dawson, Bryan Poole, Dottie Alexander, and Jamey Huggins), glam rock theatrics had collided with Beach Boy pop pleasantry, and we were rubbernecking. My introduction to the band came with last year’s lauded Sunlandic Twins, an album of immeasurable, shimmering brilliance that showcases Barnes’ penchant for crafting delicious scholastic-pop with a saccharine glaze. This evening’s set pulled heavily from the record, highlighted by a more guitar driven version of the synth-heavy should-be smash hit (and unfortunately titled) “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” and the dreamy urban espionage soundtrack, “Oslo in the Summertime.” There was constant instrument swapping, multiple onstage costume changes, obscure literary and mythological references, songs of necrophiliaand dancing. Even hardened hipsters that typically stare blankly with folded arms and stoic scowls couldn’t help themselves tonight. Toe tapping and head bobbing quickly gave way to elementary school recess calamity. We hopped up and down in oblivion. We wanted to take the band home, or at least find out what they were doing the next night. “The Party’s Crashing Us” was a triumph, testing the vertical leap of the Chuck Taylor’s crew. We wrote letters to the FDA encouraging them to consider replacing Zoloft with anything Kevin Barnes concocts. We locked the doors so the DEA couldn’t outlaw the intoxication. Endorphins spilled out of our ears and clouded the club like confetti.
Sadly, there are no immediately scheduled tour stops until Lollapalooza. Get to Chicago.