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Of Montreal vs. Axe Riverboy

It was a strange evening at the Bataclan. A night in which the headliner, Syd Matters, didn’t show up–nearly unheard-of in today’s music times–and their guests played on a kind of fun, retro note.

Within the all-too-short opening time slot and packed closely at the front end of the stage, Axe Riverboy weaved in and out of pop gems evidently inspired by the turning sixties and emerging seventies. By the end of the set, they had earned the status of any group at a big rock fest. Of Montreal finished with an abounding and fun show, digging through their unique sound that dashes amidst glam and disco, while displaying the eccentricities of the years that most people only know through the nostalgia of their older brothers.

It was a rather frustrating evening, during which the curtains swung shut at 11, after Of Montreal refused a curtain call in front of a packed audience at the Bataclan. There were expeditious guards and the beginning of our suffering. We hadn’t gotten our Take Away Show, and some weary security guard wasn’t going to make us forget about it because he wanted to go home. Two hours later, we had shrugged off a ton of hassle and conjured up a great deal of fun to help us forget about the frustration.

I don’t really know how to describe all the hesitations, the yeses, the nos, the maybes, the traffic jams in the hall, the “coming!”, the wait, the hassle, the anguish, and the excitement. We found ourselves kicking everything off in the street. Axe Riverboy and Kevin Barnes were joking around on the sidewalk in front of the venue with a bottle of champagne in hand. The lighting turned everything sepia yellow, and a couple of fans hung around to see what would unfold. We were in the heavy doorway and somber impasse of the artists’ exit, listening to the Brian and Xavier sing and cover the Zombies. Then we started forward towards the Boulevard Voltaire and the venue’s main entry.

Everything started in that corner. All the far-off cries of fans, who pricked their ears and fixed up their sequins. Brian and Xavier were charged up as a crowd of people formed a dense circle around them; the other groups scattered about, all of us moving, taking up this one here, or no, that one there. The music mattered much less than the fun it brought with it. Axe Riverboy was a beaming kid that launched into his songs with an energy that could have performed and guided choirs all night. The vaporous Kevin seemed to be carried on a drunken ship. You know–there but not there, smiling down on everything from his very high, starry perch.

After a while, we had to bring these guys back to earth so that they could play a couple of their numbers. We were never part of a group as large as we were at that moment, which proved to be the most impressive of them all. Axe Riverboy tapped his feet through a back alley as Kevin and Brian hit their old pipes upon a trashcan. Thanks to a little booze, spontaneity, and a yearning to play together, this experience proved to be far more memorable than the concert that preceded it…