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2011/05/15 / monteurhulot

SHOW // Of Montreal, Nite Jewel, Painted Palms – Avalon, Hollywood

Painted Palms began the night, offering an enjoyable run through of their chillwave-styled Canopy EP – it was a bit surprising to see that material played by a five-piece band, although one gets the feeling that these sorts of acts, whether they have one member or six, will end up having similar sounding recorded material, as in the end, a synth player will run everything through Ableton Live.

Los Angeles’ own Nite Jewel, is, let’s be honest, pretty terrible, decent instrumentalists and smarmy, disaffected singer playing what sounds alternatively like an out of focus Barbie Dreamhouse version of the Tom Tom Club, or a loungey, West Coast version of Salem. Listening to an earnest band from the 1980’s would be far more rewarding, and the best element of the whole set was a bass drum pattern from – yes, the ubiquitous Ableton Live. Kudos to Ramona Gonzalez for getting through a verse of “Sir Duke” when I suggested that she (well, heckled her to) play it after she decided to discuss how great Stevie Wonder was at last night’s Prince show during a break for technical difficulties.

There’s no doubt that the fun that Of Montreal has on stage is both genuine and bountiful, and a little sweet, but over it all hangs the central conundrum that has followed the band’s work since Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? (at that point mostly obscured by stellar songwriting and solid production) – does a dude in his 30’s, who started out making some of the most precious, twee pop ever conceived decide to transform himself into the winkingly pan-sexual band leader of Ziggy Stardust and the Vice Spiders from Adult Swim as a genuine reaction to personal issues – dealing with being a white married guy by pretending to be almost everything but – or because he realized he could grab the eternal devotion of drama geeks, self-identified misfits and slightly alternative high-school girls, a legion of which were behind me throughout the show, singing along and continually affirming both the quality of the music and the sexiness of Mr. Barnes? If the latter, it’s still one of the better sell-outs, and while Of Montreal produces there’s plenty of good music, enthusiastically performed, in the live setting, as on Skeletal Lamping and False Priest, the good can be crowded out by the cringe-inducing and the bland. Perhaps this is a matter of not being able to properly embrace fun as a real, soulful person, but as admiration for the effort and imagination clearly put into the stage show shifted into wondering whether all those costume changes really were necessary, I found myself increasingly filled with the sensation of watching a musical production of Peter Pan put on by high-school stoners left without a director, suffused with adolescent sexuality and being slowly consumed by in-jokes, scored sometimes by regrettably faceless arena-rock, and other times by songs that I remember fondly but only half heard over the jubilant audience who obviously had an emotional investment much greater than I.

Buy me a coffin, I’m old and jaded!


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