Ever since the release of their six-song EP Time to Pretend in 2005, American indie band MGMT has been the paragon of 21st century psychedelic rock music. This group manages to collect all the pop, rock, dance and electronic sounds from the past 40 years, mix them up in an idiosyncratic way and then deliver them in a manner that can only be called novel.
Though this indie band’s stage presence is just as low-profile as the group itself, the dream-like effect they produce via sound and stage set is so enrapturing that they always grasp the crowd regardless of their passivity and hipster jadedness.
This Sunday at The Tabernacle, MGMT dazzled a music hall full of indie genre fans. Despite the odd day of the week, this sold-out show filled the venue and reaped a high energy that had everyone feeling electric. The concert was not only an exceptionally agreeable auditory experience (despite many jumbled reviews of the band’s live performances), but it was also extremely aesthetically pleasing. The hallucinogenic patterns offset on the stage, in addition to the chromatic lighting on their set, channeled a jumble of the album’s retro-inspired artwork.
Opening the evening was a slightly similar-sounding indie rock band called Kuroma, headed by one of MGMT’s touring members Hank Sullivant. This group, whose soon-to-be-released full-length album Kuromaroma is being produced by MGMT’s very own Ben Goldwasser, got the energy flowing to prepare the crowd for the main act.
Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, MGMT’s two founders, songwriters and front men who formed the band while studying together at Wesleyan University, shared the stage with a few background members who complemented their prowess on the guitar and keyboard, respectively. They opened up with the particularly unorthodox “Flash Delirium” from their 2010 album Congratulations, and then deftly launched into their more popular tracks without hesitation. Maybe they’re just a little too cool to save those for the end.
They began building up the excitement with a slew of songs from their sprightly debut album Oracular Spectacular, such as “Time to Pretend,” “The Youth” and “Pieces of What.” Next, they jumped into one of the most in-demand songs from this album and arguably the band’s most popular song, the disco-vibing “Electric Feel,” made popular by French duo Justice’s Grammy-winning remix and a slew of commercials and movies. This track, made up of fun, sexy and “punny” lyrics is a crowd-pleaser (“Saw her in the amazon / with the voltage running through her skin” is just one of many memorable moments from the song.) Everyone in the room grew adrenalized as the band adapted the track into an extended stage version of drawn-out pauses and prolonged hooks.
The groovy ambience was taken to a new level as they proceeded directly into “Kids,” a playful track about the freedoms of childhood, also off their sought-after debut album. This popular song was easily received by the crowd and transformed the show into a full-on festival-style dance party.
Although the group focused more on their instruments and skillful performance than the crowd in front of them, as per usual, they seemed to be impressed by the vigor they garnered in the Atlanta concert hall. “You’re the best crowd we’ve had in a long time,” lead vocalist Andrew VanWyngarden remarked upon returning to the stage for their encore.
The band closed the show with the euphoric “Alien Days” off their new self-titled album released in early September. The jubilant tempo of this track was complimented by the stage set, which pictured brightly colored abstract images of aliens and feet to accompany the song’s perfectly paradoxical lyrics “one foot leads to another.” And if that wasn’t trippy enough for the audience, this last track’s set also included a remote control UFO that hovered above the congregation of music fans and had many wondering if they were wearing 3D glasses.
And that served as an amusing ending to a great career-encompassing show – and a nice way to revamp a regular lazy Sunday.
– By Alana Pockros