of Montreal and Christina Schneider’s Jepto Solutions at The Bluebird Theater on April 20, 2017 in Denver, CO

of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes

Barely making it across the busy street of Colfax, a drag queen stumbles towards the Bluebird Theater in high heels. She joins a line of girls in shorts and rainbow colors leggings smoking cigarettes. I stood next to them waiting for the doors to open overhearing their theory of the social benefits of smoking. Through the nicotine haze, I recognized other of Montreal fans that I see every time the psychedelic show comes to the Mile High City.  In front of the line, a girl in a micro silver skirt that was so enamored with the band’s last performance she flew to of Montreal’s hometown of Athens, Georgia for their Halloween show.  A video game clerk brought his elderly parents to the show for their third time. The three friends that always dress in theme for every show (once in kimonos, next in drag, and this time in matching 420 inspired tie-dye). You might think the crowd sounds more interesting than the performance. But the music starts, and you attention goes right to the leader of the freak show Kevin Barnes.

of Montreal – All Photos by the Rock and Roll Princess

Entering the stage in a blonde wig and red crop-top skirt ensemble, Kevin Barnes sang the verse, “Am I on the verge of a really big breakthrough or just another meltdown?” from the song Gratuitous Abysses from last year’s album release Innocence Reaches Long time keyboardist Jojo Gladwell dressed in a Togo and guitarist Bennett Lewis in western wear held the music together as chaos ruled in front of the stage.  The back screen elevated the performance by displaying psychedelic images through the set. But that’s not where the visual stimulation stopped. Masked characters made appearances throughout the show.

Falling in Love Again (Can’t Help It)

Transforming into a long flowing white gown with moving images eliminating him, Barnes did his version of Marlene Dietrich’s Falling in Love Again (Can’t Help It). Two masked females frolicked around him with flowing ribbons making the 1930’s song strangely erotic. Opening act Christina Schneider was identified as one of the dancers with a hole in her sock. I guess the high concept art show didn’t have much of a budget for stockings.

of Montreal with masked theatrics

During Let’s Relate a masked dominatrix came out with a whip. Kevin Barnes and her “related” in the middle of the keyboard solo knocking out some of the instruments.  During the song ID Engager, a wrestler wearing an American Flag and another wrestler draped in the Russian Flag started to flight. But another masked wrestler in a rainbow flag brought them together to kiss. Maybe Kevin Barnes can assist in our strained foreign affairs with similar results.  

of Montreal

Bassem Sabry, named after the deceased Egyptian Revolution journalist, was the most powerful song of the night. Backed by images of this year’s Women’s March, Barnes sang, “People disappear on the wrong side of this revolution/When they’ll return, all their childhood memories are dead.”  Since the lyrics are sung with such a happy melody, it became extremely haunting.  At the end of the chorus, Kevin Barnes declared, “Every leader is a cellophane punk/If you hear me say yeah!” Of course, the crowd repeated “Yeah” again and again with delight. Not really sure if the deep lyrics reached the crowd celebrating 420 from the guy in a dress.  But it was a powerful moment.

Christina Schneider’s Jepto Solutions

Opening band Christina Schneider’s Jepto Solutions can be described as beat poetry over deconstructed guitar chords backed by an improvisational guitarist and drummer. Christian Schneider appeared drained with dark circles underneath her eyes looking like a grown up hippie version of Wednesday Adams.  The cause could be related to bassist Zach Phillips leaving the band one day before their Denver debut leaving the band without a key element to their sound.

I look forward to a reunion with the spontaneous traveling girl, the video game clerk with his parents, and the matching costume wearing trio the next time of Montreal comes to town with their psychedelic performance art theatrics.

See you at the next show.  I’ll be the one wondering what a cellophane punk is.

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