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of Montreal

In the late 90s, Kevin Barnes was a young addition to the Athens, Georgia’s influential Elephant 6 collective. His style in those days, like founding members Neutral Milk Hotel, Apples in Stereo, and Olivia Tremor Control, took melodic pop in unexpected directions. Barnes’ long career has had more wild turns than any of them. As his twee narratives got increasingly involved, albums like The Gay Parade overflowed with musical ideas and a Playbill’s worth of characters. By the mid-00s his oft-shifting style had begun to distill into the sharp pop-disco of Satanic Panic in the Attic and The Sunlandic Twins. Fusing thrilling guitar rushes with dark emotional context, 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? is probably the best glam rock album made in recent memory. Mining Prince as much as Bowie, and topping even the multi-part structures of his earlier work for elaborate design, Skeletal Lamping and False Priest expressed more outlandish carnal knowledge in proud falsetto. Paralytic Stalks, released earlier this year, is perhaps a less fantastical, more darkly confessional turn that (as always) is no real predictor for where he might move next. As Barnes’ music has veered towards sex funk and Freudian turmoil, of Montreal’s stage show has turned into one of the oddest spectacles in modern rock. Dadaist imagery and elaborate costume changes are the norm, but notable deviations have included playing a 2007 Vegas show entirely nude except for a sash, fishnets, and facepaint, or riding onstage the Roseland Ballroom in 2008 atop a real, live white stallion. The only thing you can count on at an of Montreal show is a mind-melting dose of psychedelic excess.