Of Montreal’s founder and front man Kevin Barnes isn’t the kind of performer who plays coy with the audience, smiling and nodding. He’s either riding a white horse on stage while wearing nothing but a pair of glittery, blue leotards, or he’s hanging from the rafters, faking his own death. And every now and then he might bring out Susan Sarandon, dressed as a dominatrix.
“We had this harness rigged up for the last tour,” Barnes said. “I was definitely a little nervous, but if I fell from it I wouldn’t die—probably just break my leg or something.”
The theatrics of the tour that accompany Of Montreal’s latest album, “False Priest,” are slightly different from those of the previous tours. For starters, Janelle Monáe and Solange Knowles, Beyoncé’s sister, are guest stars on both the album and within the tour.
“I knew them both before, and I’m a fan of theirs,” Barnes said. “I knew they’d do a good job on the album, and they did.”
Janelle Monáe will accompany Of Montreal on select dates, with Solange also making a few surprise appearances along the way.
The “False Priest” tour will also include performance art before each show starts, and select shows will see Janelle Monáe and Of Montreal playing together as the opening act. The whole night should feel like an event with multiple performances, instead of just waiting for the main act at the end of the night.
The album itself is still much of the indie pop sound that Barnes has been toying with for years, but it also incorporates a 1970s disco feel, as well as some R&B notes.
“I feel like I wasn’t paying attention to my contemporaries for the past 10 years,” Barnes said. “I’ve just been all about the 70s soul.”
Unwilling to continue being left out of the musical loop, Barnes started doing some research.
“I just started looking up the best 50 albums of the year,” Barnes said. “I’ve been listening to Twin Shadow, and Caribou’s new album, which is really good.”
Now that Barnes is up to date, what will he do next—release an instrumental album? Maybe a holiday album for next year?
“I hope not,” Barnes said. “I remember when Bob Dylan’s Christmas album came out and a lot of people were weirded out by it.”
That might be because Bob Dylan’s voice has started to sound like a stomach growling.
“It must have just been one of those things he had never done so he wanted to cross it off his list,” Barnes said. “It’s kind of hard to screw up traditional Christmas songs though. Unless maybe it was a metal Christmas—actually, not even that could do it.”
Of Montreal will be playing in Mobile on Jan. 11, and even though it’s not Pensacola, it’s just a quick car ride away.
“We’ve actually played in Pensacola before, about 10 years ago,” Barnes said. “We were having a hard time getting places to let us play and Sluggo’s booked a show with us.”
Although the show wasn’t exactly packed, it did provide a small amount of much-needed support.
“I think there were about five people there,” Barnes said. “But it was really nice of Sluggo’s to let us play and to offer us that support.”
Maybe Of Montreal’s next tour will include a Pensacola reunion. Tickets for the Mobile show are available now online.
WHAT: Of Montreal, featuring Kid Sister
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11
WHERE: The Soul Kitchen, 219 Dauphin St., Mobile, Ala.
COST: $20 plus service fees in advance, $25 day of show