In the last few years Of Montreal have become one of indie rock's better live acts, delivering theatrical productions with glitter, nudity, puppetry and bondage costumes to go with their psychedelic funk-rock. (At a show earlier this year, Susan Sarandon came onstage dressed as a dominatrix.) To support their new album, False Priest (out next week), the Athens, Georgia crew are gearing up for another what may prove to be their most outlandish tour yet, featuring five costumed performance artists onstage, plus a storyline about the band traveling through a parallel universe. "We've done a lot of skit performances in the past, but this is way more abstract — it's about the whole visual event, rather than just making people laugh," frontman Kevin Barnes tells Rolling Stone. "We're creating something that’s unconventional, especially if you place us in a genre like indie rock." Check out our exclusive clip of the band's behind-the-scenes preparation above.
Janelle Monáe — who guests on two False Priest tracks — will join Of Montreal on tour, but rather than simply play her own opening set, she'll help the band kick off each night with a free-form jam session, covering tunes by everyone from Prince to Neil Young. "We're viewing it as us curating a night at the venue — there will be performance art before the show starts," Barnes says. "We want it to be so that right when the doors open and people start coming in, Janelle and Of Montreal will be performing. We're trying to go a lot of cross pollination." Barnes says he got the idea from watching Talking Heads gigs from the '80s, when David Byrne would open the stage to the Talking Heads side-project Tom Tom Club. "I thought, 'That's so cool,'" says Barnes. "You don't have to feel like you're one thing because that's what people expect. I like to think of this more along the lines of it being an event."
Unlike Lady Gaga, with her enormous Monster Ball spectacle, or the Flaming Lips and their elaborate shows, Of Montreal have kept things DIY, financing the tour themselves and pitching in with the costumes and set design. The band is traveling with two tour busses, two trailers and an entourage of 18. "Everyone's loading gear in and setting up props and taking care of costuming," says Barnes. "Its not a rock star thing where we like, fly in a guitar tech — wait, we do have a guitar tech, but not like a drum tech or a keyboard tech. We have one guy who does everything-tech." As a result, tickets prices will be reasonable: tickets in smaller markets like Athens, Georgia are going for $17, while bigger cities like New York max out at $30. "We don't want to rip anybody off," says Barnes.
As for the set list, Of Montreal will be focusing mostly on tunes from the new disc. "It'll definitely be heavy on new songs because they're fun for us to play right now," says Barnes. "But we understand people aren't going to be totally into the new material so we'll play songs from" earlier albums like Skeletal Lamping and Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?. Expect Barnes' pal (and Beyonce's younger sister) Solange Knowles, who also guests on the new record, to drop by for a few shows. "I imagine we can get her to come to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco," says Barnes. "She doesn't seem to have a problem with globe-trotting."
Sept. 13 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Sept. 14 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Sept. 15 – Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
Sept. 16 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues
Sept. 17 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
Sept. 18 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
Sept. 19 – Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom
Sept. 21 – Covington, KY @ Madison Theater
Sept. 22 – Urbana, IL @ Pygmalion Festival
Sept. 23 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
Sept. 24 – Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theater
Sept. 26 – Nashville, TN @ Cannery Ballroom
Oct. 22 – Omaha, NE @ Sokol Underground
Oct. 23 – Lawrence, KS @ Liberty Hall
Oct. 24 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
Oct. 25 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
Oct. 27 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theater
Oct. 28 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
Oct. 29 – San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
Oct. 30 – Los Angeles, CA @ Palladium
Oct. 31 – Tucson, AZ @ Rialto Theater
Nov. 01 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
Nov. 02 – Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
Nov. 03 – Austin, TX @ East Side Drive Inn
Nov. 04 – Houston, TX @ Numbers
Nov. 05 – Oxford, MS @ The Lyric
Nov. 06 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
Nov. 07 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse