of Montreal

of Montreal

Ruby The Rabbitfoot

Tue, Sep 13, 2016

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Higher Ground Ballroom

$18 advance | $20 day of show

Tickets at the Door

This event is all ages

of Montreal
of Montreal
Innocence Reaches begins with a query. "How do you identify?" coos a robotic voice over a strikingly modern mix of bright synthpop and surging rave. The question too feels very of its time-as outdated ideas about gender and attraction are being overturned-but it's also a fair ask whenever of Montreal debuts an album.

The project's 14th LP follows two full decades of mercurial creative mania: swallowing up '60s psych-pop, Prince-ly funk, and glammy prog in turn; morphing freely between full-band affair and cloistered confessional booth; comprising lyrics both painfully personal and absurdly fantastical; and recently drawing site-specific inspiration from culture capitals like San Francisco or New York City. The thread that runs through it all is Athens, GA's Kevin Barnes, and Innocence Reaches finds him at his most light-hearted in years, working a Parisian stint, Top 40 sounds, and his newfound single status into the kaleidoscopic swirl. Even as he continues to sift the sonic and emotional detritus of his past, Barnes sums up his current mood in the opener's title: "let's relate."

The most immediate surprise is the sound. Innocence Reaches is touched by contemporary electronica, indie pop, and EDM. For the first time in his career, Barnes tuned into now. "Forever I've been detached from current music," he says. "I got into this bubble of only being in some other time period. I came up picking apart the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and symphonic pieces. But last year, I was hearing Jack U, Chairlift, Arca, and others, thinking about low end and sound collage. It was an extra layer to geek out on."

Paris helped with that. Barnes lived in a friend's studio for two weeks. It was in an apartment complex and, as he prefers to work at night, he couldn't thrash loud instruments for fear of noise complaints from the neighbors. But the in-house arsenal of vintage synthesizers and drum machines was fair game—check the skittering beats of "a sport and a pastime" and thick hum of "chap pilot."

By day, Barnes wandered Pere Lachaise Cemetery, sat at cafes and wrote poems, read Jeans Ganet and Cocteau, or eavesdropped on conversations he couldn't translate. "Being in that place where no one looks at me twice and I can't even understand the language was like entering a parallel universe," recalls Barnes. "It was cathartic and inspiring to amputate myself from my normal life and feel like an individual outside of all the baggage and memories."

Enjoying anonymity, he sorted through the inner wreckage left by his divorce two years prior, and took stock of the briefer relationships since. "my fair lady" bids adieu to a familiar figure over sax-streaked disco-funk, but we soon meet Sarah from Detroit on darkwave dream "ambassador bridge," and Gabrielle the Athenian Beach Goth amid the trappy space-glitch of "trashed Exes." In "les chants de maldoror," our hero cooly declares, "We only act nicely when we're ruining hotel beds/I greeted you in a hundred doorways." Innocence Reaches continues of Montreal's recent autobiographical streak, which finds Barnes "fetishizing reality," as he puts it.

But he's concerned with a broader reality as well. "it's different for girls" is an exploration of the "dilemme feminin". Combining Daft Punk's aptitude for groove with LCD Soundsystem's wit-an endlessly quotable track that has Barnes outlining the dangers inherent in binary gendering: "It's different for girls,from when they are children they're de-personalized, aggressively objectified..." and later Barnes sings "It's different for girls, they are mercurial creatures, not a masculine dissonance or sexual currency". The song is less feminine anthem and more pop exegesis of societal codes. "though some women are demons all of them are God". Indeed.

Apropos, Innocence Reaches' cover design was an attempt by a new first-time father-Kevin's brother David-to express his "wonderment for the female anatomy." And the aforementioned "let's relate" was indeed inspired by trans issues, a subject dear to Barnes' heart. "I have a history of gender-bending in performances, but that's also always been a part of my identity as a human," he says. "I'm thankful to have an outlet for that, to express that and not get chased out of town or beat up. I think we're moving in the right direction now." The song is a call to find common ground in simply being human: "I like that you like you/I think that you're great/I want to relate," he sings cheerily.

Innocence Reaches features darker moments to be sure-isolation, anger, indifference, and the feeling that, like a Truffaut film, madness lurks just outside the frame-but as Barnes explains, "Epiphany comes from breakdown. If you can stay open and vulnerable, the nebulous becomes transparent. That's one of the magical aspects of writing from personal life."

Sometimes you've gotta intentionally court a little chaos in order to make one of the best, weirdest, brightest, catchiest, and most inventive albums in your already incredible catalog.
Ruby The Rabbitfoot
Not many people can take something as devastating and tumultuous as a breakup and turn it into an album thick with joyous beats, infectious melodies and lyrics that spin disappointment and desolation into revelatory moments, but Ruby The RabbitFoot is not someone who sees things in simple black and white. On her third album, Divorce Party, she creates a vivid world that stretches far beyond just the songs – from videos that straddle the line of performance and art, to her fearless use of fashion, to the music itself, which serves as the thrilling, creative center to her unique universe. Produced by Andy LeMaster (Bright Eyes, Azure Ray), Divorce Party is celebration of life after loss, and the creative renewal that comes from finding light amongst the darkness.

"I want this to be a soundtrack for anyone going through a transition," says Ruby – though this album was written after a particular romantic one, she's not the kind of artist who stays stagnant, anyhow. For this record, she immersed herself deeply into pop music and hip-hop, listening constantly to everything from Beyoncé to Taylor Swift and Fiona Apple. "Having your heart broken is something that humans all experience," she ads. "It's how you learn, and how you grow."

Beginning with "Beach Flowers," the first song she wrote for the LP and which also kicks of the album, Divorce Party is thick with unusual percussion, shimmering synth licks and ethereal orchestration courtesy of a more experimental approach to instrumentals. "I built you up into a castle in my brain," Ruby sings in her crystalline vocals, "and though it's made of sand, I like making plans just the same." For the Georgia-born artist, the idea of a "beach flower" came to represent how some experiences are as lovely as they are ephemeral – but that doesn't make them any less worthy of enjoyment. "A beach flower is something beautiful and temporary," she explains. "You wouldn't plant all your flowers on the beach unless you wanted the ocean to gobble them up."

The process of creating Divorce Party took nearly two years from start to finish – after 2014's New As Dew, she embarked on a artistic journey that took her everywhere from Georgia to California, where she met collaborator Natalie Neal, who became an instrumental partner in expressing her vision. Neal, a renowned avant-garde director and photographer who has screened her work at Sundance Film Festival, made the ideal match for Ruby. Together, they have been developing the visual palate for Divorce Party, including its stunning first video for "Beach Flowers."

Ruby's creative expression knows no bounds and her vibrant personality and unique style have led to a host of exciting collaborations as musicians, apparel brands and various creatives have all sought her out to collaborate. One of Urban Outfitter's "Five To Watch In Athens" and hand-picked by Japanese magazine Nero, for a photo spread, Ruby delights in flirting with the fashion world and is just as creative with her image as she is with her
music. Ruby made her acting debut in 2014 as Macklemore's love interest in the highly popular video for Fences' single "Arrows," featuring Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

To create Divorce Party, Ruby took the songs down to Athens, Georgia with LeMaster, working with an innovative goal in mind and a new, playful approach to composition. "I wanted more of a pop-sounding record," she says. "I'm a songwriter first and foremost, and I think in the past it's been my nature to pick up the guitar. But in my free time, I love pop music and rap music and R&B. So I had a heavier hand in the style I wanted this time. I learned how to make beats, and learned so much from working with Andy. He has the same love of pop music, and is fearless."

That love is clear in songs like "Faucet Love" and "Ancil," which both manage to be stirring and addictive, melding the stickiness of a pop record with experimentation – via unexpected horns or skittish rhythm - that could only be tackled by someone who knows no real boundaries. And then there are also moments like "Wish," with a slow-burned eighties vibe, that puts on full display the complexities within her vocal range. On "I Hate You" Ruby marries beats and an upbeat melody with some deeply cutting lyrics: "If I ever see your name in lights I think I'll melon ball my eyes out/ Mail them to you overnight with a note that says/"Surprise! Remember when you used to swim for miles and miles in these baby blues?/I wish you would have drowned, cause I hate you/Oh I do."

"That breakup was challenging, but I'm good for it," she says. "I learned so much about love, and I am writing and singing better than I ever have. So I'd like to thank my ex."

"Even though there's this connotation of disruption and heartbreak, divorce parties have a celebratory energy. Every person that we love teaches us, so when it's time to part ways I think it's beautiful to appreciate everything we've gained from the experience. I wrote these songs in a period of separation from a love. I want to release them into the world as a celebration of all that I learned during that time. It's my Divorce Party!"
Venue Information:
Higher Ground Ballroom
1214 Williston Road
South Burlington, VT, 05403
http://www.highergroundmusic.com/