Article and Photos by: Michael W. Bright
Louisville, KY — June is Pride month across the country and signs of the 18th annual Kentuckiana Pride Festival weekend were all over town. Louisville has been widely proclaimed a “top 10” LGBTQ friendly city not just in the U.S., but globally. The day’s bigger events on the waterfront and the afternoon parade had concluded, but the night ahead looked promising. It was no coincidence, but rather excellent planning that brought Of Montreal to Headliners on this Saturday night, since group leader and songwriter Kevin Barnes performs the entire evening in drag.
Of Montreal is not so much a concert, although their indie-pop offers a psychedelic layer and is brilliant, original and thoughtful, even while honoring mid-eighties dance club sensibilities. It is a full blown stage production that’s part burlesque, part psychedelic dream, and you can’t take your eyes off of it. The songs are catchy, infectious singalongs. Add multiple costume changes, brightly colored screened backdrops and an other-worldly cast of characters and you become part of a swirling multimedia trip. At the center of it all is Barnes, as the rail thin platinum blonde-wigged diva who never gives up the spotlight, except when surrounded by a dozen fabulously costumed avatars who appear when the lyrics (or the featured tableau) call them to life and out onto the stage.
The vamping, the over-sized dancing skeletons, the salacious lyrics, and the simulated fellatio were at the heart of the attraction for an audience who showed up knowing what to expect. Kelly, Summer, and Alfonso piled into their tiny Toyota, driving the five hours from Detroit, arriving just in time to see the band for a fourth time. Robert and his companion drove the 70 miles from Lexington to see Of Montreal for the 12th or 15th time. The atmosphere was open and animated and it was impossible to avoid the glitter.
Of Montreal tour details, discography, and images may be found at OfMontreal.net.