No matter how strange MGMT gets, we always want more. Despite their latest studio efforts being met with mixed reviews, their infectious sound remains a mainstay in the alt-rock scene. One of the front-runners of “neo-psychedelia”, MGMT formed when Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Van Wyngarden met at Wesleyan College in 2004. Their eclectic sound only blossomed and before long, this Grammy-nominated band was a favorite of tweenagers, critics and club-goers alike.
Fast-forward about 10 years: Los Angeles is buzzing with the residual energy of the first weekend of Coachella. Theatres are teeming with world-class artists trying to squeeze in an LA date between their performances in Indio. At downtown’s famed Orpheum Theatre, the six-man MGMT takes the stage to the giddy road of a sold-out crowd. With humble energy and shy smiles, they waved and took their places on a relatively simple stage set-up.
The show began with the groovy, Doors-esque energy of “Song for Dan Treacy”. The charisma of their gracefully dazed front man Ben Goldwasser charmed the crowd as they soared through their new single, “Cool Song No. 2”. Allowing themselves to break down the tribal groove and settle into beautiful vocal harmonies, it all looked so effortless.
As to be expected, their music was perfectly complimented by their signature psychedelic visuals. Projected onto an immense screen behind the band–a visceral mix of graphic computer glitches, bizarre and intriguing animation and colorful washes of patterns. It was weird as shit but in the best way ever.
Their set was a healthy, balanced blend of universal anthems and fresh material. Tracks like “Kids” were brought to life with excitement and humanity while newer (relatively unknown) songs like “Mystery Disease” proved their worth in the face of cool-tongued critics. With the 1-2 punch of “Electric Feel” and “Alien Days”, the band brought a solid performance to a searing and memorable end. This band is timeless.
Despite several questionable studio releases, there is no denying that MGMT is a fixture in the alt-rock scene–one of those staple sets that you always make time for during festival season. With poetic lyrics that are both understated and relatable, their message is poignant. For me, they embodied the careless transition of growing up…but everybody goes to their own different place when they hear “I’m feelin rough, I’m feelin raw, I’m in the prime of my life”.