Of Montreal is one of my favorite bands. I got into them in 2005, shortly after I graduated from college. It was a weird, happy/unhappy, confused, context-less time in my life. I went into this post thinking I was going to go into a pithy discussion about why this band is so polarizing, and I may still get to that. But it’s more about how certain songs from certain bands take you back to those certain shows and moments that somehow shaped everything that came after more profoundly than you could have known at the time.
I first saw Of Montreal in early ’06 at a smallish art gallery in Portland, ME, right after the brilliant The Sunlandic Twins came out. I was obsessed with the song “Oslo in the Summertime” and when they played it I had one of those perfect show moments where you KNOW, you just know, that you’re in the right place at the right time. Those of you who frequent shows will know what I mean. You can be enjoying a show just fine, but it’s only the truly special ones that give you that gratifying sense of perfect confluence.
The second time I saw them was at the Avalon in Boston in March of ’07. This was right around the time when their shows got larger than life and completely weird, with strange, puppet-like dancers; surreal, slightly uncomfortable art; and one-liners that only Kevin Barnes found amusing. I couldn’t appreciate it at the time due to extenuating life circumstances that prevented me from appreciating anything, but the show was still pretty fucking amazing. I saw them again at the Roxy seven months later in October and it was a perfect show – totally dance-y and ridiculous, and I got to HUG KEVIN BARNES. His glitter was on my body. It was pretty transcendent. The song I most remember from that show is this one:
My most recent Of Montreal experience was at the Orpheum in October of 2008. It was a bad night for me to be out at a big show, mostly due to sheer exhaustion, and, naturally, extenuating life circumstances. I found the Orpheum to be too big a venue for the band’s energy to easily enrapture me. The show was weird and OTT again, but their final encore – a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – made it all worthwhile:
Of Montreal, more than any other band, has mapped out my post-college young adult life. We all have one band that did this for us, one band we can turn to that will always bring us back to our most poignant, fucked up moments. The song that continues to move me more than any other no matter how many times I go back to it is “The Past is a Grotesque Animal” off Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? I couldn’t find a full version online but I think that even without the final two minutes you’ll understand.
Of Montreal is a polarizing band. People love them or hate them. There is no in-between. I can’t get any of my (beloved, trusted, reasonable) friends who hate them to really explain why in any articulate way. Feel free to do so in the comments, my beloveds. Here’s your chance.