I’ve always wanted to go to Cracker Barrel.
I’m unsure of how I’ve never gone before – it’s literally alongside every other highway exit – but Saturday was going to mark my triumphant arrival to the Old Country Store. Unfortunately, after being held up in traffic at an interstate toll under construction, the near half-hour wait for a table rained on my country dinner parade.
It would only make sense that a dream-crushing night that also included a replacement dinner of Wisconsin cheese curds from Mars Cheese Castle and a raging, Tylenol-fed headache would culminate in me realizing, only after cozying up to my seat in the gorgeous tri-level Pabst Theatre, ready to rock my headache away, that I absentmindedly forgot my notebook at home. Actually, I’m such a space cadet, that I pretty much forgot I was covering a show at all. So folks, this one’s a reconstruction from memory and photographic images. Let’s hope for the best.
Loney, Dear, a folky Swedish solo project by Emil SvanÑngen that gathers four additional band members for live performances, opened the show. The first half of each waily, rock-lullaby tune was addictively fun to bounce along to, but by the second half, the high-pitched vocals and background ooh’s and aah’s quickly become repetitive and dull. If I was an optimist, I would say they’re not half bad. But I’m not. So they’re not half good. But, with a little less humming, a bit more song structure and the addition of an “L” to their name so it is actually comprised of words, this band could be riding the catchy coattails of Peter, Bjorn and John’s upcoming mainstream explosion.
Though the mixture of green PBR and a double-dose of Tylenol began to shut my body down about halfway through set break, I awoke and kicked my ass into gear for of Montreal’s start. It seemed, though, that Kevin Barnes wasn’t doing the same. The first three songs felt a little dead, and the combination of drum machine-led tunes and lack of band energy caused me to question if they were actually playing instruments.
Fortunately, it was all uphill from there.
The show, as always, was fantastic. Between the crazy clothing (keyboardist Dottie Alexander sported a glorified skating costume so glitzy she almost outshone Kevin Barnes’ costume changes), the set (comprised of flashing lights, David Barnes-esque animations and a slideshow of ’80s pictures, predominately from a women’s track meet) and the musicians themselves (guitarist Brian Poole/the late b.p. helium went crazy with his guitar and even laid down while playing for a few minutes), of Montreal keeps innovatively pushing the envelope, while keeping us wanting more.
They covered a majority of their newest album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, during their captivating, fun performance and added in older tracks like, “Disconnect the Dots,” “Oslo in the Summertime” and “Rapture Rapes the Muses.” They also finished with an encore of David Bowie tunes. During one song, (it may have been “Rapture,” in fact), Barnes threw on a smocked shirt and scaled a ladder covered in a “skirt,” to look like a giant wearing a gigantic housedress.
Even though I didn’t see any Kevin Barnes penis this time around (lucky Las Vegas attendees), I did, indeed, have a revelation. During “Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider,” it finally hit me – Barnes is Mango, the short-short wearing, go-go dancing, effeminate character played by Chris Kattan back when SNL was watchable. And hey, if anyone is actually pulling that off in real life, it only gives me yet another reason to love the goofy and glamorous stylings that characterize an of Montreal concert.