Live at KOKO

Who would have thought that this once obscure footnote in Elephant 6’s cryptic pantheon - a retiring bedroom project based around disjointed Beatles chords and pigeon-hearted prose - could now, on the advent of their ninth full length album, be dwarfing one of London’s most celebrated venues?

It’s a clumsy, unsettled audience anticipating Of Montreal’s only UK tour date, with the crowd giddily one-upping each other in the rubberneck stakes well before the band take the stage. Finally two gold-faced minions (possibly the 'Sunlandic Twins' from 2005’s album of the same name) appear, stepping aside to flank singer Kevin Barnes’ slight frame.

But this isn’t the Kevin Barnes who once sang twee indie ditties about rabbits and Swedes into a four-track recorder. This is Georgie Fruit - Kevin’s fictional alter ego and vicarious glam-funk muse. Equal parts Prince to Ziggy Stardust, Georgie has been described as “a 40-year old black transsexual who used to play in a band called ‘Arousal’” and who features prominently on 'Skeletal Lamping', the new album from which much of tonight’s set is taken.

Covered in a glittering bodystocking, GeorgieKev emits a bloodcurdling screech and so starts one of the most flamboyant and ambitious performances in indie rock. Or is it even indie rock anymore? If it’s even a gig, we’re not even sure as band are joined onstage by various masked beasties who act out a grotesque surrealistic opera one suspects only Barnes himself could interpret. One minute an elephant has his drink stolen by a martian, next a fawn is seen pleading with regally-dressed pigs and cockatoos. The track ‘Gallery Piece’ sees an argument of living statues whose heads and bodies are slowly manipulated by Barnes as he sings.
It gets weirder. During 'And I’ve Seen A Bloody Shadow' Kevin leaves the stage only to return in a flimsy nightgown. Stripping to nothing but a loincloth, he is daubed from head to waist in red paint as he lies on the floor like a Greek god. He later dons a shiny bouffant waistcoat and dances a jig with a panpipe-playing Satyr.

Of Montreal return for an encore with the should’ve-been-a-hit 'Gronlandic Edit'. This is followed up by a note-perfect rendition of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' – a choice so far removed from the sugary glitz of the last two hours that it whips the audience into a rapturous mosh.

Stupid and contagious, indeed.

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