Of Montreal - Art Theatre of Long Beach - January 23, 2014

Katrina Nattress

Of Montreal
Art Theatre of Long Beach

Before the holidays, Kevin Barnes and his band embarked on an extensive national tour, including a stop in Los Angeles. And now, after the celebrations have waned, the troupe decided to give a few smaller cities in Southern California a show before heading to Asia and Europe. One of those cities was Long Beach. And the venue was an old theater aptly titled the Art Theatre of Long Beach.

But you see, this wasn't one of those theater-turned-venue types. This was an actual theater. Like, movie theater. Like, Inside Llewyn Davis played there at 1:30 this afternoon kind of theater. (Hell, it even served popcorn and candy at the concession stand.) And by the time Of Montreal stepped foot on stage, the snack laden aisles transformed into a dance floor. Well, gradually.

Late last year, Barnes released his twelfth studio album, Lousy With Sylvianbriar, which found him curling back to his folk roots with tracks that paid homage to greats like Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Though the record's subject matter is still crude in a peculiarly profound way, the songs follow guitars more than synths and lend themselves more to introspective, marijuana-fueled nights than ecstasy riddled orgies. Last night's performance spanned both of Barnes' fantastical worlds.

Backed by his touring quintet, Barnes began the set with a few mellow tracks off the latest record, "Suffer For Fashion," off Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? and "For Our Elegant Caste," off Skeletal Lamping. As the night progressed, the band continued to play more sensual, funky tracks from its monstrous discography. As if trying to look the role, the usually flamboyant Barnes masked himself in dimly red lighting and wore a relatively innocuous blouse and jeans. He focused more on strumming his guitar than igniting a dance party. But about two-thirds through the set, that all changed.

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