On tour: of Montreal | 06.10.24, Delmar Hall

Photo of Kevin Barnes from of Montreal by Shervin Lainez.

w/ Godcaster | 8:00pm | 6133 Delmar Blvd. | All ages | $27 advance, $30 day of show

They say the only constant in life is change. Since founding it nearly three decades ago, Kevin Barnes—of Montreal’s singer, songwriter, ringleader, and creator of about 98% of the sounds you hear on any given of Montreal album—has lead the genre- and gender-agnostic “band” through nearly infinite permutations, from their early days parlaying psychedelia as part of the storied Elephant 6 collective to their eclectic modern era (kickstarted with their 2007 breakthrough, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?) that mines the otherwise undiscovered connection between indie rock experimentation, synth-pop, new wave, Prince-style R&B, funk, and pure, unfettered, robotic weirdness. Yet through all those changes, there was one constant: Kevin Barnes kept the band’s headquarters in Athens, Georgia.

But no longer. Of Montreal’s latest album—Lady on the Cusp, released last month on their longtime home, Polyvinyl—is billed as Barnes’ “final transmission from Athens” (they’ve since relocated to Vermont). Leaving behind a longtime home always brings complicated emotions, but count on Barnes and their always-elliptical lyrics to tackle it from fascinatingly weird angles. Album opener “Music Hurts the Head” serves as a preview of the album in microcosm, starting with a spacious, sedate bass melody and Barnes’ detached vocals before piling on more and more different clattering synth sounds until it starts to sound like a networking event for broken robots. Then, two-and-a-half minutes in, huge, grungy guitars blast in for one brilliant, rockin’, thrilling chorus that soars until Barnes unexpectedly drops you back into Synth City. Barnes’ thoughts on the state of their art? “Rock n’ roll is dead,” they intone, “that’s why it’s cool.”

The cover to Lady on the Cusp

From there, the album spreads its musical wings, from the pillowy synth downer “2 Depressed 2 Fuck” to the Velvet Underground-y acoustic shuffle of “Rude Girl on Rotation,” from the Talking Heads funk of lead single “Yung Hearts Bleed for Free” to “PI$$ PI$$,” which works in a Hendrix-y guitar bit (like the intro to “The Wind Cries Mary” played sideways) before switching on a dime to the sturdy strut of Let’s Dance-era Bowie. Of Montreal doesn’t make it easy to give a simple summary of where this album fits into the overall arc of their discography—this is, after all, their 19th album, and they’re pretty much all as stylistically all-over-the-place as Lady on the Cusp is. That said, if the album has a sonic theme, it would be the vocals, which Barnes frequently delivers in a detached deadpan, though even that’s not a constant presence (see the falsetto vocals on the piano-driven yacht rock groove of “Soporific Cell,” for example). Throughout, Barnes doles out his trademark lyrics: sometimes inscrutable (“Stepping on scorpions to lose my erection”), sometimes profound (“I don’t know how to translate my deepest, darkest secrets into English”), sometimes juxtaposing a little of both (“Do we have to piss our lives away in Amygdala hijack furies?/ Do we have to breathe our childhood trauma into every conversation?”), but always a wild ride.

Of Montreal have a long history of playing St. Louis at a staggering variety of venues. Early shows hit the Hi-Pointe, Mississippi Nights, and, yes, even the Gargoyle (it’s not setlist.fm, but I was there, dear reader, and that tiny little basement bagel shop was practically boiling over). After Hissing Fauna’s release, the band graduated to the Pageant, bringing a full-on Flaming Lips-ian circus to their stage in 2010—with Janelle Monáe on hand, no less. (See amazing photos here, courtesy of former Playback photog and all-around awesome dude Todd Owyoung.) In 2011, they brought a scaled-down but no less wild show to the stage at the fittingly eclectic Luminary Center for the Arts, and they christened the rock scene in The Grove by being the headliner on the opening night of the late, lamented Ready Room in 2014. This new tour finds them at Delmar Hall. With the sizable dancefloor right in front of the stage, I have little doubt they’ll succeed in getting a real party started. After all, as Barnes puts it in “I Can Read Smoke,” “You cut my throat, there’s dance in my blood.” | Jason Green

For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

of Montreal of tour:

06.06.24: Hamden, CT @ Space Ballroom #

06.07.24: Rochester, NY @ Water Street Music Hall #

06.08.24: Detroit, MI @ The Magic Stick #

06.09.24: Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall #

06.10.24: St. Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall #

06.11.24: Wichita, KS @ Wave (Indoor) # %

06.12.24: Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre # %

06.14.24: Jackson Hole, WY @ Center For The Arts %

06.15.24: Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Hall %

06.16.24: Seattle, WA @ Neumos %

06.17.24: Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom %

06.18.24: Eugene, OR @ WOW Hall %

06.19.24: Roseville, CA @ Goldfield Trading Post %

06.20.24: Berkeley, CA @ UC Theatre %

06.21.24: Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent Theater %

06.22.24: Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom %

06.23.24: Albuquerque, NM @ Sister %

06.25.24: Austin, TX @ Mohawk %

06.26.24: Dallas, TX @ Trees %

06.27.24: Springfield, MO @ The Regency Live %

06.28.24: Nashville, TN @ The Exit In %

06.29.24: Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse %

06.30.24: Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle %

07.01.24: Washington, DC @ 9.24:30 Club %

07.02.24: Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle %

# w/ Godcaster

% w/ Tele Novella

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