Live Review: MGMT, Williamsburg Music Hall, Brooklyn 12/8/07

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review and photos by Sheryl Witlen

MGMT bubble to life on their debut album, Oracular Spectacular, unleashing the youthful daydreams and playful lyrics that are the product of Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser. The pair met at Wesleyan University and immediately began working on songs worthy of drawing the most coveted prize of any fledgling band, a record deal with a major label. Feeding off of the industry buzz surrounding this fledgling band, I was eager to see how their sound would fill the large space of Williamsburg Music Hall.

Amid a crowd of their peers, melancholy hipsters and local music industry characters, MGMT delivered a carefully crafted and posed product. While their sounds draw on elements of classic 70’s British Pop that at times remind one of T-Rex or David Bowie, their live show is rather subdued. VanWyngarden and Goldwasser spared nary a moment of intimacy with those gathered before them, instead concentrating completely on maintaining their carefully coiffed facade. Dedicating their affection simply to their instruments, they delivered a voluminous sound that stunned the stoic scenesters.

Audience members swayed and shook to favorites, “Kids” and “Electric Feel,” allowing themselves to be swallowed by the electro-dance smashing curves, clicks, buzzes and rhythms that have made MGMT one of the latest gems on the New York dance scene. Other moments found the room silent and still, with all energy and emotion focused on more classically composed tracks “The Youth” and “Pieces of What,” which showcase their depth as lyricists and musicians. Slower tracks exhibit the bands’ true ability to rock any room to the core with the overwhelming presence of guitar synth, looped bass and strength. Their sound is seasoned with a mixture of emotions: joy, cocky confidence, yearning, heartbreak and naivete.

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VanWyngarden and Goldwassers’ decision to “live fast and die young” is a look that suits them well. Preppy in appearance and sarcastic in tone, they convince you of their drive overlapping lyrics that produce vivid images of privileged and fame that await the royalty of those who frolic in the world of rock and roll. The influence of veteran producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips) has been an invaluable presence in the album’s sound, which is presumably hard to pull off live, yet the twosome cover all jerks and jostles of a young band with the adroitness and serenity of a well traveled collective.

Although MGMT has yet to obtain the fame like many of the bands they idolize, you leave their show saturated by the lyrics from their title track, “Time to Pretend,” and convinced of all the riches they aim to reap. Recalling their short set which is the product of only having one album to draw from you are left with their harmonic melodies ringing in your ears and your curiosity wondering when their next show will be.

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One Comment

  1. Peter
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Wow! This band is wallowing in self-importance. Check out todays NYT. (april 12) There first album is candy, so get ready for self-important, pretentious 12min tunes. No not tunes. Tracks, man. How long before their plane lands. I bet they’ll do plenty of 2min, in-and-out, z-100 ditties. Sampled synth loopey loop, dance, pop, hook heavy dance! Nobody is buying. It’s over. Petland is hiring.” We’re semi-famous but still reside in Brooklyn.” For now, sooner rather than later it’ll be overpriced 4 your budget. Try Nassau County. Rent a rm from the old lady on Canary Rd. in levitown.

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