Of Montreal pleases crowd with winning performance

By Sarah Halvorson-Fried

Glancing at the line in front of First Ave last Friday, I saw a crowd of high school indie music lovers who, I was ashamed to admit, looked much like myself (only slightly more ridiculous). I was not pleased. I should have expected this, I thought: A 5 p.m., all-ages show followed by a separate Girl Talk concert at 11, may in fact be a disappointment. Fortunately, my cynicism paled in comparison to their energy and enthusiasm, which propelled the Of Montreal show far from said disappointment and into quite an enjoyable experience.After an introduction to first opener MGMT and exposure to the obnoxious antics of second opener Grand Buffet, I was ready to hear what I knew, and the audience agreed. As Of Montreal took the stage the crowd grew excited; as front man Kevin Barnes began with “Rapture Rapes The Muses” they started dancing and did not stop. Songs like “Gronlandic Edit,” “I Was Never Young” and “So Begins Our Alabee” did not fail to please as the crowd slowly became sweaty and disgusting, dancing, jumping, pushing and shoving. I lost my friends. I lost my shoe.

In the midst of such an excitable audience, one might have failed to notice the lack of similar enthusiasm from the band themselves. Of Montreal was playing to a crowd that knew and loved their music and they knew it. They could have done anything short of stop playing and the reaction from the audience would have been the same: More dancing. There was no need to impress. As a result, one attending for pure musical experience may have been as disappointed as I thought I might be, and might have better enjoyed a night at home listening to studio recordings instead.

The experience of a concert, though, is less about the music and more about the atmosphere, and the young, energetic crowd at First Ave on Friday certainly produced an exciting one. Regardless of what the band did or how enthusiastic they were, Of Montreal was more than happy to keep going. As “Forecast Fascist Future” played they began to crowdsurf; as Barnes sang “may we never go mental,” they did just that.

Meanwhile, Of Montreal played a great set, juxtaposing old and new songs to engage the audience well into an encore. Playing favorites from old albums “Cherry Peel” (1997), “The Gay Parade” (1999) and “The Sunlandic Twins” (2005), among others, as well as tracks from their newest album, “Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?” (2007) and brand new songs, they made the crowd happy without much trouble. Drawing from the band’s great music, the audience entertained themselves (and me) throughout the entire show.