Masterminded by Kevin Barnes, who writes and performs almost all of the instrumentation and vocals of their recorded work, Of Montreal's live experience over the past two decades has evolved into something unique — part gender-bending performance art, part religious revival, all body-working disco dance party.
Those shopping for a ticket to a straight-ahead rock show should look elsewhere. If you're intrigued by the idea of stilt-walkers and gas-mask-wearing aliens dancing to songs about Oslo in the summertime, that's another story. To preview their latest show next week at Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale, we've put together a little trip down memory lane, revisiting the five most bizarre moments in Of Montreal's storied past.
5. The release of Skeletal Lamping
It was not enough for the 2008 album to be released on CD and vinyl. It was also released as a T-shirt, wall decals, tote bag, button set, and a paper lantern complete with a digital download code for the music. The reasoning behind this, according to the album's packaging, was because, "Ideally, every object you bring into your home should feel exceptional to you, otherwise, it just adds to the clutter and chaos of your life. We feel, there's no reason to produce another object that just sits on a shelf. We only want to produce objects that have functionality and can be treasured for their singularity. Objects that can transform a room, bend the mind and inform your dreams."
4. The onstage alter ego of Georgie Fruit
This character was first mentioned on the 2007 album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? and since then, Barnes oftentimes embodies Georgie Fruit — only slightly puzzling, since Barnes is white and Georgie Fruit is a glam-rock, middle-aged African-American who has survived multiple sex changes. In interviews, Barnes has claimed he had another persona of Falcon Vein, but no information was readily available on that supposed character.
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3. Riding the white horse
During an October 2008 performance at Roseland's in New York, Barnes took off his coat and left the stage wearing only his skivvies in the middle of the song "St. Exquisite's Confessions," only to return to the stage in the indoor venue sitting on the saddle of an actual living and breathing horse, finishing the song while stroking the calm beast's mane. (Skip to about 40 minutes in on the above video for the infamous moment.)
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2. The documentary film
Partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the 2014 documentary The Past Is a Grotesque Animal features not only fantastic concert footage of Of Montreal shows but also tries to dig into the psyche of Barnes and the people who know him best, aiming to figure out what makes him tick.
1. The XXX show
Of Montreal must have believed the old ad campaign that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. At a February 13, 2007, concert in the Nevada venue Art Bar, Barnes sang not one, not two, but six songs wearing nothing but makeup and a crimson belt. Behind him, gay and straight porn was projected on monitors on the back of the stage, meaning there was nowhere for your eyes to go without penis in its sightline.
8 p.m. Friday, April 1, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $16 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.