Of Montreal : Chop Suey, Seattle WA 1/31/2006

Okay, bands of the world, hear this: when we, your fans, come to your shows, we come to see you. We don’t need an hour-long in-between set tease because, well, you’re the headliner, the main event – what we’ve all been standing around waiting and waiting and waiting for. So, please, don’t make us wait too long. It doesn’t take that long to get dressed and the anticipation build-up smacks of pretension and showboating. Or is it insecurity? Either way, quit it, please. Some people have to work in the morning.

Despite the painfully long wait, the overcrowded all-ages audience of this last Tuesday’s Of Montreal show at Seattle’s Chop Suey was in a forgiving mood. Credit for all this good will is due to Of Montreal, of course, who put on a damn fine show, complete with glitter-glam makeup, costume changes, and four-way synchronized guitars.

And it certainly helped that the opening acts were two very entertaining unheard-of (around these parts, anyway) groups. First up was MGMT from CT, a youthful trio that sounds a bit like Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie crossed with stripped-down Arcade Fire. All three MGMT fellows are strong singers and their voices blend so well that at times it sounded like three recorded vocal tracks from the same singer.

Second act Grand Buffet with DJ Jester kept the energy flowing with silly, but tight rap songs about Applebee’s mozzarella sticks, tree houses, Jesus, Satan and their hope of getting more Myspace homies than Billy Corgan.

Grand Buffet is from Pittsburgh. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know they hail from the home of Seattle’s current Super Bowl rivals, the Steelers. “But that’s no reason we can’t make this the best Dave Matthews concert ever,” said Buffet’s lead vocalist. We all laughed, a little uncomfortably, perhaps because no one knew what he meant. Maybe there’s lots of brotherly love at Dave Matthews’ shows? Whatever he was getting at, there was a lot of love for Grand Buffet coming from the kids corralled like cattle on the floor in front of the stage.

After a patience-sapping between-band DJ Jester set, Of Montreal finally materialized in front of the cramped bodies, sore feet and shortened tempers of a restless crowd. Lead singer Kevin Barnes, decked out in a loose-fitting wedding gown, tried to make peace by declaring his intent to “make love to Seattle,” and then offering a ring to some lucky girl or guy at the front of the stage.

As Barnes shed the gown, Of Montreal kicked off a set of recent favorites from 2005’s The Sunlandic Twins, as well as older and as yet unreleased songs. Live, their sound is much more rock-n-roll than pop, which belies the sort of lazy, butter-on-the-tongue delivery of Barnes’s recorded vocals.

The band got the packed house dancing, or at least jostling one another, with the radio-friendly “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games.” It’s such a shame that there wasn’t more room to move, especially when they played “So Begins Our Alabee,” a synth-heavy dance number that makes you want to kick up your heels à la a John Hughes-era Molly Ringwald. But such encumbrances didn’t affect people’s vocal cords – “Forecast Fascist Future” from The Sunlandic Twins and “Chrissy Kiss the Corpse” off of 2004’s Satanic Panic in the Attic had everyone happily singing along.

The best thing about Of Montreal’s super-charged live act, perhaps, is their playfulness. They don’t take the retro-rock thing too seriously, as so many style-conscious bands do these days. Yes, they were wearing fancy rock-star outfits, striking poses and even began “I Was Never Young” with the intro to “The Final Countdown,” but you still got the feeling that any and all posturing was accompanied by a large wink and a very open invitation to play along. Combine that sort of attitude with solid pop melodies, and Of Montreal is a band that’s worth staying out late for on any weeknight.

For more info see: ofmontreal.net

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