Culture Collide: Of Montreal’s whimsical whammy, golden moments and other festival ephemera


Random encounters of the festival kind from Saturday’s third night of Filter magazine’s Culture Collide:

Highlight of the night

Absurd and absurdly fun – that’s about the only way to describe Of Montreal’s hour-plus excursion into whimsy and fantasy at the Echoplex. There were plenty of costumed crazies accompanying Kevin Barnes and crew throughout, onstage and in the crowd, and amid all the balloons, party favors and misbehavior there was music too. We think. While dodging a friend dressed as a gay wizard, we swore we heard “Spiteful Intervention” (off the band’s most recent album “Paralytic Stalks”) and a couple songs off “Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?” To heck with Culture Collide, this band would do well at a festival called Worlds Collide.

Church-goin’, fine folk and electro-pop people:

Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab brought a sense of French elegance to the proceedings at the Echo Park United Methodist Church, and thankfully she brought her sense of humor too. Backed by a bassist and a drummer and playing to a packed house, she worked through some technical problems while playing songs off her second solo album “Silencio.” She introduced one as an angry song – it was punctuated with a “grrrr” – and ended it with a blood-curdling scream. A few in the church headed for exits, although it was just to catch another set, and she joked “Why is everyone leaving? I won’t do it again.” There was some downtime when her bassist broke a string, but overall her set was an exercise in mutual adoration. “Love you!” somebody shouted at the beginning. “Oh …,” Sadier responded sweetly, “I love you too.”

Earlier in the church, Long Beach trio Pageants – fronted by ex-Avi Buffalo singer-keyboardist Rebecca Coleman – gave a clinic in slow-motion beauty. Built on gorgeous, chiming chord progressions, Pageants’ melancholic but hopeful songs fairly buzzed in the room’s natural reverb, and both tracks on their forthcoming 7-inch, “Musings of the Tide” and “August Moon,” mark it a slice of vinyl you’ll want in your collection.

Scottish folkies Admiral Fallow achieved the same warm-and-fuzzy, but in complex, orchestral fashion. Two keyboards, electric and acoustic guitar, flute, clarinet, accordion, multiple percussion – the six-piece arrived from Glasgow fully armed. Even in the tenuous set-up of the Taix Champagne Room (a temporary stage where several artists had suffered sound problems earlier in the festival), Admiral Fallow made a strong impression, mostly owing to the powerful boy/girl vocals of Louis Abbott and Sarah Hayes.

The gypsy electronica of Sweden’s Niki & the Dove nearly fell victim to some of those problems. Soundcheck took forever. Malin Dahlström looked frustrated, but she was nothing but sweet once the set started. There was no extra drummer this time like they had at SXSW, yet Dahlström and Gustav Karlof ended with “The Drummer,” which spiraled in to a full-on club song as both members pushed buttons and twisted knobs.

Earlier in the Champagne Room, local four-piece the Golden Ghosts dispensed some straight-up blues-rock that got people moving in the front of the room but got a little predictable as the set wore on. Six-foot-7 frontman Riley Bray worked up a bodacious sweat, and he had an elliptical way of introducing his songs. Example: “This is just a reminder that your life is happening.”

In between sets of vintage rock from Mississippi’s Young Buffalo and occasionally mystic psych-folk from Singapore’s Monster Cat in the Taix lounge, the Lighthouse and the Whaler reminded you that life is happening too. And love. The Cleveland quartet’s indie-folk got the lounge’s attention (not an easy thing at this festival), and their vibes-addled single “White Days” added a sparkle to whatever the bar was serving.

The festival-goers who paraded from Taix to the Echoplex later in the evening missed something if they didn’t poke their heads into the Echo for Funky Sole, one of L.A.’s best dance nights and, on this occasion, host to the Breakestra, one of the city’s longest-running purveyors of old-school funk ’n’ jazz. Miles Tackett and crew (and the ensemble on the Echo stage was huge) was in fine form.

So too, were Australia’s Gold Fields, holding forth in the Echoplex. If you thought Miike Snow and Friendly Fires had mined all the gold out of electronic dance rock, the 45-minute set from these Aussies made you think again. Their big, textured songs fueled a dance party that completely upstaged the ensuing set by Icona Pop – who, depending on your point of view and love of Swedish electro-pop, were either stylish karaokists doing watered-down Robyn or a stylish duo doubling your fun on a Saturday evening. Maybe it was because so many in the crowd had gathered for Of Montreal, but Icona Pop’s dance party only had about a third as many participants as Gold Fields’.

Photos by Laurie Scavo

Contributing: Kevin Bronson and Seraphina Lotkhamnga