Replay Lounge -- Sunday, July 2, 2000

Of Montreal/The Marshmallow Coast 

Replay Lounge -- Sunday, July 2, 2000

"We're flying by the seat of our pants tonight," The Marshmallow Coast's frontman, Andy Gonzales, said after taking his spot on the space set aside for his band on the Replay Lounge's floor. "Let me explain what's going on. We're practicing an experiment in economics by traveling as two bands, but we're the same people. We're going to play, do a play, and then come back completely reincarnated as Of Montreal." Oh, the whimsy of the Athens, Georgia-based musical collective called Elephant 6, of which both bands on the bill are members. They're goofy people doing goofy things that are, luckily, well worth watching.

With an interesting "stage" setup that included backdrops taped to the front of two keyboards and a mic stand that looked like Beavis' head on the body of a bee with wheels, The Marshmallow Coast played its psychedelic pop music, most of which has a sing-song quality not unlike fondly remembered cartoons. Gonzales, who sounded a little congested, added to that effect, while the rest of the band played musical chairs frequently during the set, switching off between bass and drums and the like (one member donned a tambourine on his head during one song). The band couldn't have counted on the added sounds from the Attack From Mars pinball machine some wizard was playing behind it, but fortunately these noises fit right in.

There was no play as promised during the set change, and though that was disappointing, Of Montreal's set wasn't. "Now we're playing as Of Montreal," Kevin Barnes announced, catching up tardy members of the crowd. "There's not much of a difference, except that I'm singing and Andy's a better singer." Actually, it was pretty much a draw between Barnes and Gonzales, and the groups were equally adept, if different stylistically, with Of Montreal rocking a little harder and The Marshmallow Coast moving along at a leisurely pace.

Eventually, the promised play did happen. A conductor-looking guy appeared at the beginning of one song, held up masks, and displayed pictures for visual clues as to what was going on in the lyrics, even though the end result was still indecipherable. Later, he reappeared and lip-synced while wearing a paper mask, alongside two similarly obscured members of the band, to a prerecorded skit about how to find girls. After another number, gunshots rang out and Barnes fell to the floor. Then the conductor returned, dressed as the Grim Reaper, and the fictionally deceased Barnes sang about the state of his soul.

"Whenever I talk, I sound like a fool," Barnes explained near the end of the set. That's not completely his fault, as Of Montreal's songs take a little bit of explaining, such as the one "about this little kid who worships a boxer and he gets to meet him and he's mean to him and he goes to tell his dad and his dad says shut up." Barnes might sound silly every once in a while, but more important, both of his bands sounded wonderful.

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