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Touring behind a brand-new album and with a notoriously elaborate stage show in tow, everything is perfectly set for Of Montreal‘s ascent to the throne of flamboyant psych-pop. After all, the band’s new album, False Priest (released yesterday by Polyvinyl Records), is the final entry in unofficial trilogy Kevin Barnes began with 2007’s depression-fueled, breakup-oriented concept album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, and 2008’s fractured follow-up, Skeletal Lamping. (The former was a rousing, if surprising, critical success for the band; the latter, thought not quite as well received, certainly didn’t lack the same creative ambition.) So here comes Of Montreal with False Priest —which features the chugging-guitar- and throbbing-bass-heavy single, “Coquet Coquette”—and what happens on the very first night of the band’s tour (two days ago in D.C.)? Well, to put it charitably, it was a complete spectacle-over-substance disaster, according to The Washington Post‘s David Malitz, who wrote:

Of Montreal played a worthless show Monday night at the 9:30 Club. It was a trudging parade of pointless, kitschy costumes set to a soundtrack of tepid funk rock that was as painful to watch as it was to hear. There was no spark, there was no flow, there was no joy — even the stage dancers, whose faces were obscured by full-body Lycra suits, seemed slightly embarrassed to be a part of the debacle.

Yikes. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. And it probably doesn’t help that—by some accounts—rising R&B sensation Janelle Monae (who is currently downstairs with David Dye recording a World Cafe segment) opened the night with a show-stealing performance no amount of over-the-top theatrics could match. Of course, Of Montreal and Monae are good pals: she appears on False Priest, and Of Montreal landed a hand on her debut full-length, The ArchAndroid. So we really hope Monday night’s debacle was just first-night jitters (or that Malitz simply isn’t a fan). Otherwise, Of Montreal could be in for a long tour—Monae opens for the band 22 more times in the next month and a half. That could be awkward. Of Montreal opens headlines tonight’s show with Janelle Monae at 9 p.m. at Electric Factory; tickets are $28.

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