Wednesday April 21st, 1999 at The Replay Lounge in Lawrence, KS.
The Ladybug Transistor & Of Montreal

This was the first show since Avail in 97 that someone wanted to me to go to that I wasn't already planning on attending. MNO said he had heard good things about The Ladybug Transistor and wanted to go. I had never heard of them but I'll go to any show. Vanessa on the other hand said she still hadn't recovered from being up late on Monday so it was just MNO and I racing to Lawrence in his silver Civic in the middle of a hella scary thunderstorm at 11pm on a Wednesday night.

I didn't recognize anyone in the club but Michael quickly found a good friend named TEKON II and started throwing quarters into it like no tomorrow. Since it was a 2 for 1 credit type thing I played for a while and got to be a kung fu fighting bear. Michael kicked my ass pretty bad so I stood up front and waited while the band set up. I had no idea who was actually playing at this point or what a Ladybug Transistor looked like but when the first band announced themselves as "Of Montreal" I was thrilled.

Of Montreal is a bit of a cousin in the Elephant 6 family of lo-fi indie pop bands from Athens. Although the band is centered around the guitar and strained vocals of Kevin Barnes, members from family bands The Gerbils, Olivia Tremor Control, Elf Power & Neutral Milk Hotel have at times all done duty in the band. Many of the five players spent their time running back and forth between keyboards, clarinet, tin whistle and guitars. And although it made the show a little hard to follow, the added sounds and textures benefited their quirky songs. They ended their set with Coco and the Invisible Tree from the last album featuring a couple of members from The Ladybug Transistor adding vocals on the chorus.

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Sister band and constant touring partner The Ladybug Transistor from NYC started setting up immediately and I started checking out the crowd and began feeling underdressed. There were a tonnage of cute kids there and most seemed to have been dressed by a professional. I was still wearing my work clothes and had not accessorized properly - I must have been repulsive to the 50 or so folks in the club!

When The Ladybug Transistor started I thought it was amazing how much vision they shared with Of Montreal, although the early instrument swapping was just a drop in the bucket. Of the five players in the band for this show, three members contributed vocals and only the drummer stayed on his instrument for the full set. Generally this causes problems and delays in a set, but with only one exception, the swaps went flawlessly and somewhat without notice unless you were paying close attention.

Songs were more open than the Elephant 6 crew and the musicianship was a little higher caliber. The band wasn't afraid to take chances with progressive or jazzy bits driven by flute or long trumpet melodies, but it all combined in the end to create supreme pop that everyone could enjoy. Pure, simple and a little more honest and less kitschy than other bands in the same genre. They played a long but appreciated set that spot-lighted the professionalism of the band members. I was thoroughly impressed.

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On the way out MNO picked up a Of Montreal CD and a The Ladybug Transistor CD and we headed back to Kansas City at around 1:15.