Except for a May visit in 2010, Of Montreal's annual invasion of The Howlin' Wolf is one of the surest rites of fall, a dressed-down, propped-up freak-quinox that marks both the apex and the deepest depths of New Orleans' autumn concert calendar. (Kevin Barnes in a recent interview called the band's performances "Fellini-esque.") Even during the spell of bad weather in his temporary head — the comedown from 2008's delirious Skeletal Lamping through the release of last fall's cathartic Lousy With Sylvianbriar — Barnes used his traveling circus as an escape from himself. Thus, unsolicited nudity, gift horses, game-show contests, vintage porn, gay-parade costumes, ecstasy peaks and night terrors brought to hilarious and frightening life. Oh yeah, and music; no matter that the songs stopped taking shape and congealed into thinly veiled outbursts and uncontrollable logorrhea. Sylvianbriar cured all that, live to tape. Instead of lamenting his own misfortune, Barnes revels in everyone else's: "Your mother hung herself in the national theater when she was four months pregnant with your sister, who would've been 13 years old today," he sings nonchalantly over swooning bass piece "Colossus," like a kid pulling the wings off a curio. "Does that make you feel any less alone in the world?" On the ponderosa stomp of "Hegira Emigre," Barnes goes off half-cocked ("My baby's meditating to stop the war/ But I got myself a rifle 'cause I ain't gonna get walked on anymore"), his best Ted Nugent confirming two absolute truths: The past is a grotesque animal, and happiness is a warm gun. Pillar Point opens. Tickets $15.