All (blow your mind!) photos: Jeff Martin
all words: Andy Hess
Night two was better. But not by much. When Of Montreal took the stage for night two of their residency at the 9:30 Club, I was hoping for a band that wasn’t going to play it safe. Unfortunately they did. And it was more of the same: cheap gimmicks and mostly forgettable cuts from the band’s new record False Priest.
The new record is definitely not the band’s best work, but it’s also not their worst. And I’m totally fine with Kevin Barnes doing his best Prince impersonation (even though his David Bowie is much better), False Priest feels like a paint-by-numbers recording. That said, the stronger tracks from the record — “I Feel Ya Strutter”, “Sex Karma”, “Enemy Gene” — definitely fit into the band’s set nicely, but the rest came off as a soundtrack full of filler to Barnes’ three ring circus of props and people in Lycra suits.
It wasn’t all bad. The giant television that was brought out while Barnes played Sibylle Baier’s “Tonight” on a piano backstage was a particularly poignant moment; “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal” with its pulsing drums and slow build was inspiring and a definite highlight to the set; the encore that closed with a medley of Michael Jackson standards — “Thriller”, “Wanna Be Starting Something” and “P.Y.T” — worked really well and definitely ended the show on a high note.
The problem was that it took too long to get to that point.
Calling it now: this will be the last time Janelle Monae will be opening for anyone on tour. Armed with the best pop record this year in The ArchAndroid and an infectious live show, no one would be crazy enough to enlist her for an opening act. For two nights, she stole the show before it even began and I wouldn’t be surprised if it kept happening the rest of this tour.
Greeted by Cindi Mayweather (Monae’s alterego on her EP Metropolis: The Chase Suite and The ArchAndroid) via livestream from the future, Mayweather explained why Monae was back from the future to present the problems of the android race and how we can solve them by dancing. The crowd at the 9:30 Club happily obliged.
Kicking off her set with “Dance Or Die”, it was high energy from there on with only brief stops for instrument changes and the occasional drink. Using her hour-long set to convert the non-believers, Monae delivered and danced her way into the hearts of the audience. While her dancing shoes channel James Brown, Monae star power shines through and I’m not sure anyone left the 9:30 Club Tuesday night without acknowledging that Monae is definitely deserving of all the hype.