of Montreal Rocks Out Through Sight and Sound
Published: Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 22:10
If there’s one thing Kevin Barnes and his band, of Montreal, have been known for throughout the course of their career, it’s the amount of effort they put into their live performances. Their second night at the U Street Music Hall on Thursday, Oct. 24 was no exception. Barnes and his band put on an amazing show full of vivid performances of songs from throughout their career, as well as tons of visual and theatrical elements that only further added to the overall themes and feelings presented in the music.
It was clear from the wardrobe of the band members on stage and from the images strewn from the projector onto the white sheet behind the stage that Mexico and its colorful culture had a huge impact on his ideas for this live show.
Once all four of the band members had assembled on stage, a man in a fly mask and flamboyant outfit came out to introduce Barnes. He then appeared onstage wearing a beautiful green poncho of sorts with intricate gold weaving on the edges while the lead guitarist, Bennett, went for a more Southwestern style rocking cowboy boots and hat. Rebecca Cash, whom Barnes later referred to as “country royalty” due to her familial connection to Johnny Cash, also joined all the men on stage.
Throughout their set, a projector showed a montage of images on the sheet behind the stage. Depending on the song and its feel, the images would change but the constant themes included the summer of love, psychedelia, multiculturalism, etc. At times the projection receded into the background and was just an accent for the music, other times it took over the stage, making not only the white sheet its canvas, but the band members as well.
Barnes also enlisted three performers to come on stage at various times in a variety of different costumes. These performers came out in masks, white mesh suits, winged contraptions and a bunch of other costumes that no one in the crowd was expecting. The audience was treated to a spectacle of both sight and sound.
At one point, Barnes went offstage early and came back on for the next song in one of the white suits with his face covered by a mesh hood. He got onto a block and sang part of the song with the hood on. For the most part, the performers stayed behind him and did their own thing without interacting with the band members, but for another song there was some interaction. The female performer came out in a mesh tent and proceeded to do a flirty little dance routine with Barnes.
Not only did the band play their set with magnificent vigor, especially the lead guitarist who played with mind-blowing skill, but the additions of the projector and performers just put the entire thing over the top. Barnes’ production made the most of the tiny U Street Music Hall stage and created an environment for the music to be heard in a new way. Some would think so many visual and artistic elements would distract from the band and their music, but Barnes was able to find a balance between sight and sound.