“Go with what you know” can be a dangerous adage to follow when deciding what to spend your hard-earned money on in the ways of live music. Seeing the same band, or the same types of bands, unwaveringly can make you bored, poorly-rounded, and generally not fun to be around. Conversely, excessive experimentation and willy-nillyness in your show-going can lead to tired feet, confusion, and a real skinny wallet. Appropriate balance is key; of Montreal is your huckleberry.
Wednesday was the third time (for second time at the Cradle) I’ve seen the much-lauded Elephant Six troop from Athens. And, as always, they failed in every way possible to disappoint.
When you see of Montreal, you know you’re going to hear great music; you know you’re going to get a great live performance. What keeps you coming back, to quote my favorite political actor of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, are the “known unknowns.” The on-stage theatrics, the costume changes, the audience involvement: you know they’re all coming, you just don’t know how.
Kevin Barnes has a way about picking out great openers, too. (E.g., They tapped the now teen-infectious MGMT well before they worked their way into cute girls’ iPods and everyone else’s guilty conscience (don’t lie), as well as the oh-so-fabulous Sugar and Gold.) This time,the opener was the densely-populated (two divas, a bad-ass sax player, a helmet-wearing keys player, two exceedingly talented guitar players, and a drummer who somehow managed to keep up the rhythm) Noot d’Noot:
an Atlanta-based freak-funk hipswaying acid jazz group up to whom the crowd warmed quite well. Oh yeah, and a lead male vocalist (seen in the above with his hands in the air) who looked a whole lot like this guy:
Like I said, of Montreal failed miserably to disappoint. Alas, there was no coffin filled with shaving cream, no on-stage faux-hanging (both featured when I saw them last, in Durham), but there were plenty of gas mask-wearing bishops:
and, of course, the obligatory trash can-mounted feather blaster:
I’ll certainly see these guys (and gal) next time they pop up in the triangle. It’s a safe way to spend your show-cash: you know what you’re gonna get, but there are sufficient “unknowns” to keep you coming back.