Last Night: Kevin Barnes at Respectable Street, August 8

Who can resist a song and a smile?
Who can resist a song and a smile?
Photo by Courtney Hambright

Kevin Barnes

With Fire Zuave and Sweet Bronco

Respectable Street, West Palm Beach

Sunday, August 8, 2010

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Sunday night, Respectable Street was host to a special evening featuring Kevin Barnes from Of Montreal which served as an appropriate closing ceremony to the area's biggest musical weekend in some time. The attendees were a mix of peeps, some of which had slept through (literally or figuratively) Saturday's Lake Worth-It Fest and some had made it and were postponing their inevitable music-feast induced slumber for one more night.

For Barnes' rare, solo performance, stage left was an upright piano, and stage center was a chair and mic stand. In atypical fashion, Barnes entered the stage casually, sat down with his acoustic guitar, and went into the Bowie tune "Starman". Though the room was filled only to about a quarter of its capacity, the core group of attendees honored the occasion with attentiveness. Barnes proceeded to offer an intimate performance featuring mostly Of Montreal favorites with a couple covers and some new songs on the piano.

Barnes said very little to the crowd. His presence was unsurprisingly shy. When the crowd would applaud or join in with the singing duties, he broke into an adorable grin. The audience reached its enthusiastic, participatory peak during the sing-a-long "Bunny Ain't No Kinda Rider", though the true highlight of the evening was Barnes' heartfelt performance of "Past is a Grotesque Animal". It was during the latter that a level of vulnerability which only a solo acoustic performance allows for was reached. Other notable fun moments included his piano debut, a soulful yet silly cover of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", and the guitar strummed cover of the Beatle's "I Will."

Most of the people who arrived at all were there in time for Sweet Bronco earlier, and they were rewarded for their punctuality. It is apparent that the band, which is less than a year old, has gelled as a unit. Their sound has matured into something very much its own and the delivery is that of a relaxed, confident group. Perhaps the most notable sign of maturity is the patience with which the band plays. Rather than forcing themselves upon the audience, the band is able to lay back and allow the songs to build and peak naturally. The music is playing the band, as they say. A strong showing from start to finish. All that was left out was the ritualistic Tom Petty cover, which was thought to be a standard feature of all Sweet Bronco shows.

Following Sweet Bronco was a band which in the past has been listed on flyers as "Fire Zuave, featuring the cousin of that guy from Of Montreal" (frontman Chuck Andrews is indeed a cousin of Kevin Barnes). The band, which is from South Florida originally, moved to Athens, Georgia a while back and has only recently reformed here in its hometown. Coming into Sunday night, this line-up only had a few shows under its belt. The set was enjoyable, but not exciting. The tunes were good all the way through, and the set was free of any sloppiness or hitches, but the thing never really got too far off the ground. The most interesting part of the set was the bass player, with his goofy moves and goofier Don Johnson-esque stark white suit, sans shirt. He had the people's attention, for better or worse.

Set List (Kevin Barnes)
Starman
Heimdalsgate Like a Promethian Curse
Coquet Coquet
Beware Our Nubile Miscreants
Chrissy Kiss the Corpse
Bunny Ain't No Kinda Rider
Suffer for Fashion
Past is a Grotesque Animal

(move to piano)
Ain't No Mountain High Enough
Hydra Fancies
Tonight
Enemy Gene
Flunkt Sass (stopped after intro)

(back to guitar)

I Will
Du Og Meg

Critics Notebook:

Better Than: a stripped down version of the Montreal Canadians (unless you're more in the mood for nude hockey players than acoustic indie music)  

Personal Bias: I was in the mood for the music, rather than the hockey team

Random Detail: During Sweet Bronco's set, a fan called front man Chris Horgan a "horgan". To which Horgan replied "You're a Horgan. And someday you'll realize what that means."

By the Way: Of Montreal's new album, False Priest, is set to be released in September 2010. Soon!


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