Fronted and formed by Kevin Barnes in 1996, Of Montreal have released a total of 13 full-length albums including one live album with performances recorded at… you guessed it, San Francisco’s own Great American Music Hall. Since the beginning, the band’s lineup has been in a constant state of flux, garnering a total of 21 different musicians both past and present, with Barnes being the only permanent member.
The band’s sound generally has changed from album to album, experimenting with different lyrics, instruments and effects. Their latest LP Aureate Gloom feels like a roller coaster of different tempos and sounds all accompanied by Barnes’s signature vocal harmonies. The third track off the album “Empyrean Abattoir” is a perfect example of the progressive features on Aureate Gloom. The song begins with a smooth bass and drum line accompanied by a soft spoken Barnes and slowly builds up to a more garage rock sounding track, all the while providing emotionally driven lyrics.
Of Montreal is not only known for their psychedelic rock noise, they are also infamous for putting on lively and often strange yet spectacular performances. Mind-bending stage visuals, costume changes, unnatural antics, and synchronized dancing are just the norm of attending an Of Montreal set. To get a better idea of what I’m talking about, simply search “Of Montreal Roseland Ballroom” (it’s the one with Barnes singing on a horse). Along with an immaculate stage presence, the band is also known for switching up their songs and improvising on many parts to keep things more lively and entertaining.
19 years and 13 albums later, Kevin Barnes and company are still rocking and blowing our minds with their music and performances. According to Of Montreal’s Facebook page, their previous album titled Lousy with Sylvianbriar was written during Barnes’s “self imposed isolation experiment in San Francisco” in early 2013. It is for this reason that I suspect the psychedelic bunch will put on a performance worth remembering in the City by the Bay.