Photos by G.
MGMT is a great case study for a time when the music industry is seconds away from crashing and burning completely. They made an extremely radio friendly debut record, which pretty much made every top 10 album list that year and soon after pictures of the band from Brooklyn became affixed to the walls of every teenage girl in the land. The record companies found their new golden boys. Then they jumped the shark by making a nearly hook-free sophomore record which features surf inspired psychedelic tracks, one of which clocks in at 12 minutes, thus sending hipsters and label executives who know nothing about music but only about the bottom line into a panic! Their live premiere at the legendary Radio City Music Hall in New York on August 18, 2010 continued their trend of challenging their listeners and freaking out the record company. It was very clear the band wanted the 4,500 person crowd to pay attention to the music and not the individual players as MGMT performed a dream set list – almost entirely in the dark! They were lit from behind with a backdrop that resembles their latest album cover. Since it was nearly impossible to see them, the visuals projected on the screens behind the band were as trippy as MGMT’s latest album. All ticket prices were the same, no matter what section, so for once, having good versus crappy seats didn’t make one bit of difference. That actually lucked out for me, because I was not pleased with my seat location.
When “Congratulations,” came out earlier this year, I think I was so shocked by the dramatic diversion in the band’s musical direction that I didn’t comprehend it at first, but as I continued to listen to it, it quickly became my favorite album of 2010. It was so amusing to me watching the audience not know how to react to songs, such as their epic “Siberian Breaks” a track that goes through multiple genre changes in its 12 minute length. At first people were standing, and looking around the crowd for direction, the people decided to sit. The crowd clapped as the song went into its next part, but they were obviously not clapping for the complexity of the music, they just thought a new song was about to begin. So people stood again. MGMT played nearly every song off both of their albums (except “4th Dimensional Transition” off “Oracular Spectacular” and the instrumental “Lady Dada’s Nightmare” off “Congratulations.”) The band even dug deep and played, “Destrokk,” a song off their hard to find first EP. The flow of the show was also great as they mixed in hits with their spacey new tracks. Aside from the lack of stage lighting, I thought the band sounded great and performed the best set list you could possibly dream of. I’ve seen the band twice before and the extremely drunken crowds both times pushed, shoved and body slammed to the music. Not exactly needed for this type of music, and perhaps MGMT is trying to shake those people from their fan base so they can continue making some of the most interesting music that is around today, without feeling compelled to make the sequel to their debut album. I met the band prior to the show and I’d like to thank them again for keeping music alive by keeping it real. Videos of “Congratulations” and “I Found a Whistle” are coming soon, so stay tuned!
View the set list after the jump.
The Setlist for MGMT at Radio City Music Hall on August 17, 2010 was:
Pieces of What / Brain Eno / Electric Feel / Destrokk / Flash Delirium / Of Moons, Birds and Monsters / It’s Working / The Youth / Weekend Warriors / Song For Dan Treacy / Time To Pretend / Siberian Breaks / Kids / Congratulations
Future Reflections / Someone’s Missing / The Handshake / I Found A Whistle.