This past Thursday the Majestic Theater saw Georgia-based of Montreal play for a largely costumed audience for the “Halloween Costume Ball.” The band itself is most known for its genre mixing, which first began with psychedelic pop and Beatles-inspired melodies and later transitioned into a mix of funk, vaudeville, electronic, glam and afrobeat. This band, of all those that could have been booked for Halloween, was the perfect choice. It’s not because of their eccentricities or the inability to fit them into a defined genre, but because they care about their fans enough to put on a fanfare-inducing show.
The start of their show began with an introduction from a grandmaster in a red mask and full costume, which was so salacious and over-the-top it sounded like a strip club DJ introducing the next act. The entire band wore white face paint, inflated condom balloons on their heads, white bras (stuffed for the men) and white tighty whities. Lead singer Kevin Barnes also wore a platinum blonde wig, pigtailed in all its androgynous glory.
Their devotion to sexual androgyny and abject love for their audience in between songs made the entire show feel like a psychedelic showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Their songs were all dance-heavy and made the awkward audience sway back and forth. Barnes started the show with a magnificent and melodramatic speech for the audience, which led into the first song. He asked for the audience’s understanding when revealing his worst secret, effectively adding an aura of sex appeal and mystery to the rest of the performance.
The band has a very full sound, which came through rather nicely, though the sound mixing left something to be desired. Between Barnes’ melodic high-pitched falsetto lightly trilling over the instruments and the distinct sounds of Dottie Alexander’s synthesizer, it all worked well together to create a distinguishable sound.
The show also featured a large amount of background images played against a white screen. Sometimes the images revolved around the psychedelic, with animation and vivid, kaleidoscopic imagery. At times actors from offstage, wearing creepy smiling masks, would appear on stage behind the musicians. At one point they opened white umbrellas, on which more animation was projected. These people appeared again with leaf-shaped props that looked like they were made of cotton candy.
Hardcore fans drunkenly yelled above the din of electric guitars and sometimes sang the obscure lyrics under their breaths. But, for the most part, the crowd remained quiet and contemplative rather than rowdy. The show was anything but horrifying, but it did have the dreamy surrealism of something “other.” This made it not only fun, but compelling to watch.
of Montreal not only stood in reverence for the strange and unusual, but celebrated it, much like they do in all other shows. Not only did they dress up because it was Halloween, but because it is what they do. By the very end, there was so much love and imagination that everyone in the theater left with a woozy smile on their faces, smoke slipping into the night after them.