Of Montreal & Jamie Liddell, Irving Plaza, NYC- 9/26
NYC ROLL-TOP: Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow
Apparently, the future of music involves dudes in short-shorts getting wrapped in cellophane, beatboxing, and (praise Byrne!) the Elephant 6 bass toss — that is, if one is to believe the first of two concerts presented as a part of Wired Magazine’s NextFest, held in New York during the last week of September. The short-shorts and bass toss belonged to the Athens’ post-psychers Of Montreal, the beatboxing to British one-man-soul-outfit Jamie Liddell, and the billing to Beck (who himself was billed as the evening’s "curator," if naming two acts you dig for a show in another city counts as curating).
In the main, the future seems kinda groovy.
Considered as such, Of Montreal’s set was quite encouraging because it means that twee-pop can hit puberty and come out alright. Birthed from the fertile technicolor womb of the Elephant 6 Recording Company, the ultra-prolific Of Montreal frequently leaned towards the adventurously cutesy (see Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies: A Variety of Whimsical Verse). On stage at Irving Plaza, they burst with — of all things — a real sexuality: Kevin Barnes, in short-shorts and glam make-up (and nothing else), getting handcuffed, mock-whipped, and cellophaned — followed by a Hedwiggily burlesque rendition of Meredith Wilson’s ‘‘Til There Was You’ (you know, from The Music Man). There was guitarist Bryan Poole in a dress, and there were new songs with lyrics like ‘my body is an earthquake ready to receive you.’ Even indie dorks get horny, y’understand, and do do things less chaste than holding hands, snogging, or even shagging.
None of which is to say that Of Montreal aren’t still bloody adorable when they wanna be — like when they entered the stage behind giant Victorian caricature masks, or when Poole tried to lead the audience in a sing-along on Os Mutantes’ "Bat Macumba." The latter was much appreciated — it was much fun, and it allowed Barnes to change into the short-shorts — despite the mangled Portuguese and the failure to drop syllables from the title. Musically, Of Montreal were engaging throughout, from the drum-machine psych-disco they began with to the punk that dropped when an actual kit was deployed to the choreographed fists in the air during the harmonized chorus of "Oslo in the Summertime." Good stuff, that future.
At least during the first part of his set, Jamie Liddell’s concept of the future didn’t sound too different from the present. It kinda looked it, though, at least in that Liddell bounced back and forth between the lip of the stage and a giant mixing console where he brewed loops and tweaked knobs. Wearing a trenchcoat and working it, Liddell’s soul strutting on his first three or four tunes recalled a better-than-average American Idoler. It’s quite possible he got more original later on but, unfortunately, in the present, teleportation does not yet exist (NextFest not withstanding), and trains still get turned off for no good reason at arbitrary times that royally fuck up people’s social lives. So be it. The future will be here soon enough.
Jesse Jarnow blogs at wunderkammern27.com.