Apart from a visit from Apples in Stereo years ago, Elephant 6 groups have given Ottawa a wide berth, so it was a rare treat to see a group from the 90's premiere pop collective pass through town.

Kevin Barnes’ band, Of Montreal, is about as odd as a band can be and still be called pop, and so it’s no surprise that the opening band they brought with them was perhaps not what people weaned on Beatles and Brian Wilson wanted to see.

The duo dubbed the Management (or MGNT) brought their own backdrop, emblazoned with their name on a white bed sheet hung from white PVC piping. The rest of their act was similarly low-rent, with the wifebeater clad duo singing sweet disco pop tunes to a recorded backdrop. They did occasionally provide some noise of their own, abusing the world’s most long-suffering parlour guitar and a tiny percussion kit. Judging from post-show reviews on a local Internet forum, most of they crowd thought they were horrid – but several members of the audience did prance along, holding hands on cue and shaking about when the twosome left off the stage to bounce around on the dance floor.

Then it was time for Of Montreal to appear. Out came their bespectacled bassist Matt Dawson, followed by another bassist (James Huggins, who later also played the drums and trumpet), guitarist Bryan Poole, resplendent in 1960's stripes, keyboardist Dottie Alexander, then the man himself. With his face painted and in sailor’s stripes and white ducks, Barnes looked like the host for a hippie kids’ show – I was waiting for HR Pufnstuf to appear. Both Barnes and his lead guitarist sported colourful butterflies on their headstocks, and with flashing lights and the occasional bubble drop the scene was set for a night of musical nuttiness and melody.

Barnes goes where most other indie poppers fear to tread, turning his tunes on a dime, diving into the lysergic and bizarre before leaping back into disco beat fuzz. A tune starts with a Black Sabbath riff, cuts into sunshine pop, steals a Soft Cell beat then slides into some Beach Boys harmony.

The band’s set was greeted with wild enthusiasm from the audience – a good-sized one for a Monday night – and undoubtedly left a lasting strange impression.

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Commenting On: Barrymore's Music Hall, Ottawa, 29/8/2005 - Of Montreal with the Management

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