of Montreal 4/25 Koko London Review/Photos

By Michael Zonenashvili

of Montreal has finally struck a needed balance in their live show. Not only have they reduced the amount of hyper-sexual, costumed antics on stage to a palatable level, their set list has also struck the right chord in a distribution of songs from their latest 6 records to accurately showcase the sound they’ve developed.

With a stage setup that included small projector screens riddled around different points, of Montreal and their team of artistic geniuses developed a visual experience to accompany the show that I haven’t seen used before. One projector was able to line up different images on each screen bringing visuals reminiscent of the kind of characters exhibited on the band’s various album covers. During some songs, the costumes would be all white and choreographed in a way that images would project onto the costumes or props, which the crowd ate up.

Starting with tunes from the latest record, Paralytic Stalks, Kevin Barnes and his enormous live band seemed a little more “into it” than previous instances of seeing the band. It seems like the psychosocial and therapeutic outpouring of Barnes’ lyrics from the album were ready to be shouted in front of an audience. Perhaps Barnes more frequent smiles were a sign that he was finally hitting a new peak in his vocals and songwriting.

If my theory is true, Barnes might think his voice sounds the best when he’s at the point of screaming just before the voice cracks. At least with the chorus of “Spiteful Intervention,” these instances of cathartic yells are when Barnes truly shined on the album, and especially live.

These more disjointed, screams new songs segued well into the rest of the set, with Barnes introducing “St. Exsquisite’s Confessions” as their “sexiest” song. And damn, with the addition of live saxophone it might as well be one of the world’s sexiest songs.

It seems like of Montreal’s members might be hitting their own levels of instrumental virtuosity. K. Ishibashi created whirlwinds of violin noise to make set highlight “The Past is a Grotesque Animal” the panic attack inducing 12 minute epic it is. Even the drums hit a new high with lightning fast solos to intro “She’s a Rejector.” And maybe of Montreal is one of the few bands that could place two bassists on a song and double the funk without ruining the sound.

The band kept the crowd happy, between slow jams, all out shouted choruses, and even the straight up glam rock “Suffer for Fashion.” Perhaps the show was best described by their encore. The band led the crowd in a 30 minute medley of songs from “Skeletal Lamping” and “Hissing Fauna” that showcased the best parts of “Wicked Wisdom,” “Gallery Piece,” and “I’d Engager” before the whole versions of two Hissing Fauna tunes. This was a non stop 30 minutes of floor shaking of London’s Koko, and a true testament to how oF Montreal can continue to up the ante of their already bombastic and eccentric live show.

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