July 18, 2010
Fox Theater in Pomona
Last April, a sea of people crowded Coachella's Outdoor theater for MGMT's set. It was easily one of the more anticipated sets of the day. When they finally played, MGMT had strategically omitted their biggest hit--"Kids"--leaving most fans extremely puzzled. Last night I wondered if they would they dare omit it again. Would the young girls lining the barricade hours prior to the opening of the doors get their wish?
MGMT made a lot of wishes come true with a hearty 17-song set covering a high percentage of their catalog. The screams were deafening when MGMT finally took the stage. The psychedelic surf vibe of "Its Working" was a perfect introduction to the mind expanding jams that MGMT would unveil.
Andrew VanWyngarden took center stage with his Gibson Les Paul while MGMT co-founder Ben Goldwasser was stationed in front of a two-tiered keyboard stand. Turning back the clock to their 2005 Time To Pretend
EP, the hard core fans recognized "Destrokk." Seemingly channelling the acid wash psychedelia of the Flaming Lips, "The Youth" had the crowd singing along "together."
With a falsetto falling in the Bee Gees territory, "Electric Feel" had the whole floor dancing as the letters MGMT flashed behind the band. Jennifer Herrema of Royal Trux joined the band to sing the Beach Boy inspired harmonies of "Flash Delirium." After a spiraling out of control noisy ending to "The Handshake," MGMT smoothly transitioned to the acoustic laced "Pieces of What."
The rambling jangle of "Song For Dan Treacy" reminded me of the Lemonheads with its foot tapping bass line. VanWyngarden politely thanked the fans and introduced the new songs but everyone seemingly knew all the new material judging by how loudly they sang along. "Weekend Wars" was another mind expanding vacation with a guitar wah-drenched ending.
The Fox theater collectively went bonkers upon hearing the opening synthesizer notes of "Time To Pretend." If you thought the synthesizer died in the '80s, you are sadly mistaken. Naming a song after an electronic music pioneer "Brian Eno" is a dicey proposition but MGMT meshed together such varied influences like Devo and the psychedelic weirdness of Roky Erickson for one catchy tune.
A sea of digital cameras erupted from the audience for the opening notes of "Kids" as the band performed it almost karaoke style with Goldwasser finally getting out from behind his keyboards to help VanWyngarden sing. As the hour was getting late, a high percentage of the crowd filed for the exits, missing the first encore song "Metanoia" which was an almost 10-minute psychedelic jam.
"Congratulations" capped the evening as it impressive to see MGMT sample from a vast amount of unique influences, yet add a pop sensibility that held the listener's attention. MGMT seemed to be more polished compared to their Coachella performance and easily lived up to the hype.
Opening for MGMT, Francis and the Lights wowed the crowd with their synth laced dance numbers. Helios Creed seemed to have some technical problems and never really get on track with their noisy drone.
Personal Bias: One of my synthesizer heroes Peter Kembler of Spectrum and Spacemen 3 helped record Congratulations.
The Crowd: Headbands and neon. It doesn't get any more hipster than an MGMT concert.
Overheard in the Crowd: "You better not suck!" was screamed moments before Helios Creed took the stage. Oops. "Are they going to play "Kids"?! was also asked of me when some fans saw me take a peek at the setlist.
Random Notebook Dump: The beer on stage for MGMT was Miller High Life.
"Pieces of What"
"Song For Dan Treacy"
"I Found A Whistle"
"Time To Pretend"
"Of Moons, Birds and Monsters"