Camden’s KOKO tonight gives us of Montreal: the ever surprising world twisters, the glitter revolutionary, the comedy camp turned sweetly absurd, the wicked wise words moved to frantic acid dance. Tonight, in the packed ballroom shaped theatre, Kevin Barnes’s new paralytic hybrids sound as grand and astounding as the Americans ever have. The theatrical burlesque circus of sounds, colours and masks creeps in. The lights go off and Barnes slowly hypnotizes the audience into a rainbow coloured insanity with the initial soothing sounds of ‘Spiteful Interventions’, followed by the upbeat and happy ‘We Will Commit Wolf Murder’.
While steering the crowd through the landscape of new LP Paralytic Stalks, we are on occasion charmed with the old favourites off the scattered epicness of The Sunlandic Twins and the peculiar oddities of mastered pop forms, sound fluidity and gender bending of Skeletal Lamping. As with every of Montreal show it is with a turn to the eruptive perfection of Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer? that a never-ending party starts. The coquetish bow to the old favourites stirs a beautiful hysteria with first thrumming notes, with the very first jumps to ‘Suffer for Fashion’ and heaving gasps of ‘She’s a Rejecter’. The sing-alongs carry the crowd through every letter of Barnes’ genius, improvised, thought-through-everything mindfucks. In the world of the Americans the ordinary is not, the logic pejorative, practicality overrated. The beauty emerges in the lyrical splashes of paint, the muses, fandom observations, harsh critics in fairytale cuisine. Of Montreal do not simply perform, they are. They are the oddly shaped, transgender appearing giants taking over the stage in a ballet dance, lifting the entranced Barnes and engaging in the twisted affairs. They are the fantasy they create in their lyrics, melodies and costumes. There aren’t any lies in this grand illusion.
Taking us on a journey to the campest heights, Barnes paints with the scarily surrealist lightness of pop art. The band’s hypnotizing pauses of lyrical confrontation are sweetly merged with dandy electronic experimentations and simply perfect pop gems, resulting in the ultimate uncompromising goodness.
With the tension tangible, Barnes slowly draws the connection to tie his audience so very close to the approaching end. The dream shines and we all float in the cloudy melodies of the year 2210, or maybe some unicorns shaggingland.