Photography by Robert Altman
Last night, I saw Abraham Lincoln in a Spider-Man costume dry hump two big-breasted dogs wearing American flags.
…let me start over. There are two basic types of rock shows: basements and stadiums. Yeah, there are clubs in betweens – small clubs, big clubs, hole-in-the-wall bars, and so forth – but rock acts generally feel like they belong in either a close, grimy setting or an enormous building that holds more people than you’ll ever know by name. Last night’s show at Webster Hall attempted both.
The moment Yonatan Gat, formerly of Monotonix, struck his first chord, the gate-bearing people at the front were confused; there was no one on stage. The house lights dimmed only to reveal Gat and his band illuminated dead center of the entire room, looking like storytellers around a campfire. Gat’s brand of instrumental psychedelic music mixes gypsy-sounding scales, math rock rhythms, and the distilled guitar of indie bands like Bedhead; thrown onto a floor and surrounded by New York City, he’ll always be a tough act to follow.
When of Montreal took the stage, however, the hall could’ve been a stadium. The band came out first without its frontman, Kevin Barnes, everyone dressed up in an odd ensemble that could have been labeled “suit and tie cowboys” or “office pirates,” and chased by a non-musician all in black – a character named Lanc. As the musicians played, Lanc told the trippiest tale about making love to a dinosaur, a baby camel coming out of a camel, diving into a volcano, and getting punched in the face by God. It was funny in that way someone who pukes from too much acid is funny.
Then Barnes strutted onto the stage like a modern David Bowie, glammed with lipstick and eyeliner, leading the band into “Bassem Sabry” and “Forecast Fascist Future”. The group’s moves throughout the night didn’t feel choreographed, but everyone (band members and audience) danced. At one point, damn near everyone in the crowd was jumping, and the second-story hardwood floor of Webster Hall was shaking like an earthquake.
Dancing doesn’t make it more than a club show, though; of Montreal brought an esteemed light show, an array of costumes and dancers, and five Barnesian outfit changes. The backup dancers started off as odd-faced, unsmirking angels and evolved to be everything from a dog standing on two legs to strange, Stonehenge-like monsters barreling around. It was during one of these changes that I witnessed Abraham Lincoln in a Spider-Man outfit dry hump two big breasted dogs wearing the American flag during a guitar solo.
If that sounds random, it’s because it was. It was also hysterically fun (even if it wasn’t Mom-approved good, clean fun). At one point, the band covered Kitty Wells and brought “her” out for the cover. (The problem: Wells has been dead since 2012, and I’ll be damned if I know what woman actually performed this straightforward country tune in the middle of an acid-trip dance meltdown.) The song gave Barnes time to do a wardrobe change, but also gave the feeling of a brief breather from the seemingly endless dance party.
The setlist went as far back as The Sunlandic Twins and had multiple tunes from Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, but focused its punch on the new material – which is probably ideal for a band with some 13 studio albums. The juxtaposition between of Montreal and Yonatan Gat might turn some people off, but for music fans who can enjoy either a packed basement or a crowded stadium, this tour is a riot.
Forecast Fascist Future
A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger
Suffer for Fashion
Beware Our Nubile Miscreants
Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider
It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels (Kitty Wells cover)
We Were Born the Mutants Again with Leafling
Rapture Rapes the Muses
Chthonian Dirge for Uruk the Other
Like Ashoka’s Inferno of Memory
The Party’s Crashing Us
Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse
She’s a Rejecter
The Past Is a Grotesque Animal