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March 21, 2011 | by  | in Music |
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MGMT, The Hunter Lounge, Saturday 19 March

For a band who walked on stage in a smoked-out haze wearing casual tee-shirts and jeans, MGMT looked a lot more like fellow university students than adored hipster rock stars. Nevertheless, whatever the pretence, their opening song ‘Flash Delirium’ seemed to have stolen all those feathers, capes, metallic suits and stunts from the past and filtered it through a kaleidoscope which had been thrown up into outer space where satellite signals from the last 40 years’ worth of music could reach it, in order to create 4.34 minutes of bliss.

MGMT has always been an ironic band, and with this came some interesting paradoxes. The most controversial: their satirical but engaging performance of their mass-hit ‘Kids’ roughly half-way through the set. Stepping away from the behind the mic and towards the crowd, Andrew Vanwyngarden finally decided to put those blue eyes to their proper use for the first time during the show, engaging with the crowd, even smiling it seemed at a joke only he, Ben Goldwasser and the rest of the band were in on.

Many fans were already grooving away far too steadily from previous ballads to actually notice that MGMT had indeed lip-synched the entire song. Badly. Although the band never intends to alienate their fans, I believe this was a statement against the song, and what it represented to them.

Many international interviews have recorded MGMT’s contempt for their better-known billboard hit songs like ‘Time to Pretend,’ ‘Kids’ and ‘Electric Feel.’ In 2009 the song ‘Kids’ has reached astronomical heights – the French President Nicolas Sarkozy used it without permission on his campaign trial for presidency. The band sued, and the case was later settled with Sarkozy’s party donating money to the musician’s charities.

Truly their ‘well-known’ songs are only a small façade of the band’s incredible musical range and style. MGMT are not your average mainstream pop artists, nor are these ‘psychedelic chameleons’ easily boxed into any other musical genre. The complexity of their list of inspirations for their sound includes, but is not limited to Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Flaming Lips, Beach Boys, C.A. Quintet, Television Personalities, Magazine and Love.

As a whole it was an entrancing show with exquisite performances of a cover of The Cleaners’ song ‘Only a Shadow,’ and their own ‘The Handshake’ and ‘Weekend Wars.’ I was surely stuck with their songs playing re-runs in my head a good 48 hours after show.

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  1. As many previous reviews of MGMT have noted, the band are unable to play ‘Kids’ live. They did sing though. So whilst an interesting theory, I believe the statement was more along the lines of “hey guys, we cant play this live so we’re just going to mess round and have fun ’cause we know you love it.”

    I feel a bit bad for ripping into you, as you did bother to write this and I did not, but… is this a review? Or just a discussion about your time watching MGMT? Either way, I would hope for some comments along the lines of how the band managed to please (or not, depending on your opinion) both the die-hard fans and those in the audience who had no idea where the end of Siberian Breaks was. As opposed to the trivia you have provided here.

  2. Leezy says:

    To suggest that MGMT “can’t play” Kids is ludicrous. It’s four basic chords. Look at all the covers of it on YouTube by 14 yr olds. Most of their songs are much more complex and difficult to play. They sing it (not lip-sync it) karaoke-style because they want to.

  3. Laetitia says:

    Dear Also Went to MGMT that Saturday,

    Thank you for your feedback. I am quite prepared to mark my oversight that it was in fact karaoke-style not lip-synching, and thank you for setting that straight. As to the reason why those guys do it, it’s completely up to opinion.

    Regarding the ‘Kids’ kids vs. the ‘more committed’ fans debate, I think pegging the two against each other is firstly not really refreshing in any way (this divide has been talked about since the days of Oracular Spectacular, and still lives on in too many interviews – now pegging the new album against its predecessor). Secondly I believe it’s against the band’s aim of not estranging, but musically enriching (all) their fans. To constantly highlight this divide is to do just the opposite. Their willingness to name drop their obscure inspirations in interviews as well as on the LP (Brian Eno, Dan Treacy from Television Personalities) is a further testimony to their eagerness to educate their fans. Thirdly, the entire crowd was actually enjoying themselves throughout the show, which I did note in my article, so to say it was merely a personal memoir isn’t quite true.

    As I said before, thank you for your feedback, and judging by your passionate comment and knowledge you should probably write a few reviews sometime as well. I look forward to reading some of your work when it’s under your real name.

  4. Freya says:

    BOOM.

  5. erica says:

    I like Freyas BOOM comment.
    i concur

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