Sunday, July 10, 2011

2011-04-22 - Record Online

Of Montreal plays for Vassar crowd

Indie band showing off quite a lot

Of Montreal has a reputation for putting on quite a concert. Members of the acclaimed indie pop/rock group dress in gender-bending ensembles that go heavy on the brightly colored spandex and baroque styling. Dancers will appear decked out in eerie gas masks or sinister pig costumes. Band leader Kevin Barnes has been known to belt out a tune while riding a white horse across the stage.

So when band member Davey Pierce said the group's concert at Vassar College's Walker Field House will be a more restrained affair than shows past ... well, it's all relative, right?

Don't expect a radical shift in the band's aesthetic. (Pierce spoke approvingly of the new spandex suits custom-made for the show.) Rather, after amping up the razzle-dazzle on the last couple of tours, he and the other members sought to make their current concerts a little more life-size.

"We're trying to make it more intimate," Pierce said. "It will still be theatrical and have a lot of surprises, but we're trying to make it more about the music and less about the spectacle."

He's particularly looking forward to the spontaneity a stripped-down concert provides. Like many of the band's other members, Pierce is a multi-instrumentalist who will often play bass, keyboard and percussion over the course of a single set. Fewer production details offers the possibility for a less rigid set list, more audience interaction and even a fruitful slip-up.

"I like the idea of something going wrong," Pierce said. "I like the idea of not knowing what the performers are going to do."

It also means a little less handiwork for Pierce, who constructed many of the elaborate props designed by art director David Barnes (brother to Kevin) on the band's previous tour.

Like other Of Montreal members, Pierce also works on side projects. His band Yip Deceiver released its self-titled debut EP April 12.

Pierce originally conceived of Yip Deceiver as a solo project, but ultimately found himself collaborating with fellow Of Montreal members Nicolas Dobbratz and Clayton Rychlik.

Such close musical affinities form the bedrock upon which their delirious live displays rest, and they will be front and center tomorrow night.

"The whole group works as kind of a family," Pierce said. "And it doesn't hurt that everyone is a fantastic songwriter and musician. You never have to bite your tongue and say it's good. It really just is good."

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