The scene at Of Montreal’s Thursday show at the 9:30 Club: extras dressed as priests and prepubescent boys roamed the stage, lead singer Kevin Barnes crucified himself and group members sported neon costumes.
So, pretty standard antics from the Athens, Ga., quintet.
Opening with the melodic number “Suffer for Fashion,” the concert started off relatively tame. The group dressed their best for the show: Barnes wore a green top with red jeans, a polka-dot headscarf and opalescent blue eye shadow; guitarist Bryan Poole rocked a neon green Indian-style tunic, complete with neon orange shoes and hair; and Dottie Alexander looked quite comfortable behind her keyboard in a jade green ruched dress.
Flash forward to about halfway through the concert, during the slow ditty “St. Exquisite’s Confessions,” a song from their latest album, 2008’s “Skeletal Lamping.” Out came a performer in a pair of footy pajamas, meant to resemble a young boy, and a man in priest’s robes. An interactive dance of sorts followed, meant to evoke thoughts of the Roman Catholic Church sex scandals from a few years prior. The audience roared in delight. This song has been an eccentric highlight during past shows: actress Susan Sarandon made a cameo while at the group’s Highline Ballroom show in New York City, spanking a man dressed like a pig.
Denouncing Christianity seemed to be a focal point of the band’s set. Barnes ended the show by taking off his shirt and hanging himself from a cross. The music died down and the lights dimmed as he bent his head, suggesting a Christ-inspired death. Once again, the crowd loved it.
When not shocking the crowd with its outrageous behavior, Of Montreal still managed to perform a stellar live show. The vocals sounded identical to the recorded numbers, and the song choices spanned the group’s entire catalog. Some songs didn’t resonate quite as much with the crowd – “Forecast Fascist Future,” a song off the band’s first album “The Sunlandic Twins,” seemed virtually unknown to the audience – but favorites like “Disconnect The Dots” were well received.
The encore featured “I Want You Back,” a tribute to Michael Jackson that revved up the already energized crowd.
“There are a lot of songs by Of Montreal that I like more than ‘I Want You Back,’ ” said Gettysburg College sophomore Katie Wood. “But that number was my favorite part of the show. The crowd just went crazy.”
Fans will have to wait and see if the show’s religious overtones reflect any themes in “False Priest,” the group’s upcoming album scheduled to be released this year.