don't you tell me how i feel.

show review: of montreal and jens lekman by v
June 19, 2012, 9:25 am
Filed under: Shit I love, Shows

First, I’d like to formally rescind my tepid review of of Montreal’s latest record, Paralytic Stalks. It’s possible I judged it too harshly (though it still hasn’t bested Hissing Fauna…can anything?).

Why the change of heart, you ask? Two years after seeing them for the first time (a Highline Ballroom show that came complete with a pig-spanking Susan Sarandon and a crucifixion), I won tickets to their recent performance in Brooklyn’s McCarren Park, which both reminded me how staggeringly talented they are and proved that Stalks actually translates really well live. I’d like to note here that I’ve never won anything, so this was huge — though I suspect about 200 people “won” tickets in order to fill the place. But that’s neither here nor there.

The show was part of Brooklyn’s Northside festival, a four-day, geographically limited (that’d be Williamsburg, mostly) concert extravaganza, and the schizophrenic lineup also included Beach Fossils, the Thermals, and Jens Lekman. By the time I arrived, the line wrapped around McCarren Park, which was kind of inane, given that there were maybe 50 people inside the event space and no one was actually searching bags. The venue itself was a glorified parking lot with a smattering of food trucks and a stage at one corner.

I missed Beach Fossils entirely (note to Northside: that’s what happens when a show starts at 4 p.m.), but heard most of the Thermals’ set while in line. The gist: fast, punkish, kinda whiny and generally uninteresting, but they seem to have a pretty devoted following. In fact, the dude in front of me in line was so upset about missing their performance that he straight up left. Boo hoo.

After that, the decidedly nonpunk Swedish troubadour Jens Lekman (pronounced “Yens,” FYI) came as a welcome relief. For the uninitiated, Lekman is an intensely likable, verbally gifted singer-songwriter type. The secret to his success, to my mind, is the contrast between his humorously self-deprecating lyrics and his dulcet tones.
Unfortunately, his Northside set was a bit stripped back, due to visa confusion that kept his band from traveling to the U.S. But Lekman prevailed, playing his acoustic guitar and telling tales of stalking Kirsten Dunst and pretending to be his lesbian friend’s fiancé — all par for the course in Lekmanville. The crowd defied the stoic Brooklynite stereotype, shouting and clapping along in lieu of actual percussion. Toward the end, a local bassist and drummer joined him for some more robust tunes, including a spot-on performance of what I suppose is his hit, “The Opposite of Hallelujah.” Final note on Jens: He seems to enjoy saying his own name. Just an observation.

the shirt on the guy in front of me. does this make sense to anyone else


And then there was of Montreal. I think I’ve mentioned this, but do yourself a favor and see them if you have the chance.

Not only did they do smashing renditions of the vengeful “She’s a Rejector” and the seething magnum opus “The Past is a Grotesque Animal,” they also covered Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” a feat that takes balls, not to mention pipes. But if anyone’s well-equipped to pull a Robert Plant falsetto, it’s Kevin Barnes.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an of Montreal show without the requisite onstage “happenings”…lucha libre fighters tussling, pigs gallivanting, people in head-to-toe bodysuits writhing and tossing balloons into the audience. This motley crew’s most notable moment came pre-encore, when they took up the band’s instruments and proceeded to let rip a jubilant cacophony of sound for about two minutes, complete with shrieking from a masked lady. Let’s just say it looked like fun.

frontman kevin barnes astride a winged creature

Maybe it sounds clichéd, but there’s something hugely inspiring about watching of Montreal. Here are a bunch of people doing what the hell they want, with palpable delight and no fear of repercussion. Why not crowd-surf with a guitar and a feather boa? Why not make less-than-subtle jabs at America-as-world-police via onstage battles? Why not fire confetti into the crowd? Love it.

Post-show, we had drinks across the street from the park, and the members of of Montreal (writing of of looks weird) showed up — fortuitously but perhaps not surprisingly, since the bar has a pretty badass roof. My friend and I took the opportunity to chat briefly with Kevin Barnes, a friendly and gracious gent. I was admittedly starstruck in a big way.

connie, k.barnes and a Cops-blurred me

For more eloquent, in-depth coverage of Brooklyn’s Northside festival, check in with our friend Lehtola.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Great post. I wish I could have gone myself. It’s been 4 years since I last saw of Montreal, always a smashing show.

Comment by Lehtola

Why the blurring?? BOOOOOO

Comment by Steele

gotta preserve my internet anonymity yo

Comment by don't you tell me how i feel.

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