MGMT is the American band that’s been shaking up the indie scene for the past five years. Their style is difficult to shove into one genre of music, but contains elements of indie, psychedelic rock, and pop. MGMT broke onto the scene in 2007 with their hit album, Oracular Spectacular, which featured the hit single, “Kids”.
At the Barclays Center in December, MGMT played to an ecstatic (and young) crowd at Barclays Center that was their first NYC show in nearly 3 years. A homecoming of sorts. It’s been 5 years since I’ve gotten to see MGMT live, and that was when they were a young band opening for Beck. Back then they were still coming into their own. After seeing their performance last night, it’s safe to say they’ve definitely done so.
3/4 of first opener Kuroma were actually Hank Sullivant, James Richardson, and William Berman of MGMT. With the addition of Simon O’Connor, they created Kuroma. They had a groovy, jangly indie-rock vibe that was very lose, almost surf-rock at times.
Up next was Dinosaur Jr. who have been at it since the mid-80′s, but were opening for MGMT. Interesting choice, but you’ll hear no complaints from me. It’s always a pleasure to catch these guys, who are legends at this point. J Mascis is always a pleasure to watch at work, punching away at some powerful guitar riffs and slacker vocals that are more than influential. Bring earplugs if you see these guys, they bring the heat.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s been way too long since I’ve seen MGMT. I only saw them as an opener for Beck, and although I enjoyed it, there was definitely room for improvement. From the first note of set-opener “Flash Delirium”, I could tell that MGMT were not the same band. They sounded ten times tighter and more confident that they were 5 years ago, almost a new band entirely.
“Time To Pretend” was the second song played, and immediately upon hearing it I was struck hard with a hit of memories and feelings from my last summer before college. It was amazing to finally get to hear all these songs from their debut album live again, as well as all the psych wonder nuggets from their tremendous follow-up albums, Congratulations, and MGMT.
They were joined by Faine Jade, who wrote the track “Introspection” and worked in a mammoth performance of “Of Moons, Birds & Monsters” which is an interestedly different animal live. It really took me off guard by how good that song is live. From there, it was a eclectic mix of all the best tracks from their career, such as “It’s Working”, “Weekend Wars”, and “Alien Days.” They played all 12-minutes plus of “Siberian Breaks” which was mind-blowing, as well as “Electric Feel” and “Kids”, both of which had fans rising from their seats screaming and dancing once the band started playing them.
MGMT are one of my favorite bands because they have stayed true to themselves all these years. They could have sold out and altered their sound to create 10 albums worth of songs like “Kids.” But they continued to push the boundaries of their listeners, making music that they believe in. This passion and care is carried over to their live show, which is a powerful force not to miss. It was a long wait to finally see MGMT again, but it was totally worth it.
They played most of their new record and some older tracks. Some members of Kuroma joined them onsatge for a few tunes. Sean Lennon was at the show too. (That happens at a lot of big Brooklyn shows.) It was all in all, a fine early Xmas present for a fairly wide-range of alt-rock fans.
Find the setlist below, along with a giant collection of photos from all three bands.
1. Flash Delirium
2. Time to Pretend
3. Introspection (With Faine Jade)
4. The Youth
5. Of Moons, Birds & Monsters
6. Mystery Disease
7. It’s Working
8. Weekend Wars
9. I Found a Whistle
10. Siberian Breaks
11. Electric Feel
12. Your Life Is a Lie
14. Cool Song No. 2
15. Alien Days