Treasure Island Night Show Review: MGMT at the Independent, 10/16/09

by David Price on October 17, 2009


The next prog superpower? It's not out of the realm of possibility.

My double clicking ability is expert! That’s how I got tickets to MGMT at the Independent. I picked up two tickets to see MGMT thinking that of course someone would like to join me on this outing. Apparently, no one I know likes then enough to cancel their Friday night plans, so I went alone and gave my ticket to a guy so his wife could get in. You can never have too much good karma, and tonight I didn’t need the money.

The last time I saw MGMT was at Live 105’s BFD in 2008. I don’t remember much about the band, I just remember the girls from Oakland girl rap group Hot Tub getting on stage and grinding around. (Hot Tub by the way is amazing.) So, needless to say, seeing MGMT at the Independent is a big change of venue from the parking lot at Shoreline.

So I get my t-shirt, because I firmly believe in buying band merch to support bands for several reasons, mainly because I download everyone’s shit off the Internet, and to a smaller extent because I am going to have a kid one day and that child is someday going to think I am hella lame. Then I’ll bust out my t-shirt collection and there’s no way they can’t think understand how cool I am due to the extent and variety of this wardrobe of mine. By this point, the place feels definitely sold out. This must have been what it was like for Green Day, but I didn’t get to go to that.

MGMT’s entrance was rather lackluster, as far as the crowd was concerned. I expected more cheers, but it was more of an “OK, I scalped my ticket for $100, shut up and play” vibe.
Admittedly, I love anything with synths in it, so my favorite songs are when Ben David-Martin Goldwasser jumped on the Moog, and starts to control me with his fingers. The majority of the songs have keys in them but a Nord blows next to the Almighty Minimoog. That’s a fact, Google it! However, even when Goldwasser is not on the Moog, but playing that bass it’s great. His playing is smooth and crisp, nipples he’s good!

I can only compare Andrew James Van Wyngarden’s voice to this kind of Seattle grunge rock whine mixed with a leprechaun. Yeah, that’s the best I got. I think that I read someplace that he actually cannot sing with his eyes open. (That may be factual, Google that one for sure.) Seriously though, Van Wyngarden clamps his eyes tight as he belts it out. The band as a whole is awesome, too. There’s only one word that really pops up and that’s tight. Like really really tight–even the parts that feel jammy that you know they have played hundreds of times, or their in-ear monitors are actually just feeding them input from a supercomputer, rather mean a Minimoog.

The set was thankfully missing one thing: “Kids.” OMG, FML, I am so glad I was not subjected to the punishment that is that song. It’s not that it’s so bad, it’s just that it’s about as overplayed as that freakin’ Lady Gaga song, “Paparazzi.” The set did include “Feel Electric,” which is most likely my favorite song from them, and I don’t think I’m alone on that. “Electric Feel” was that song the crowd responded to best as well: it was probably the Moog. They did throw down three new tracks off their forthcoming album Congratulations. Tonight, the three tracks were “Congratulations,” “It’s Working,” and “Song for Dan Treacy.” These are fairly different from the MGMT that I know. The new tracks range from punk-boppie dance to a more chill Flaming Lips feel. Either way, the new stuff sounded interesting and a bit of a departure from Oracular Spectacular. That’s a good thing because “Kids” is overplayed, did I mention that? (Whip It was great until they played “Kids,” FYI.)

The set ended with what I really hope becomes the ritual of chime surfing. One of the guys handed the chime–which was on a drum kit type stand–to the front row and it just kind of made its way around to the back and then back up to the front. It was rather amazing, and I thought for sure that some MGMT roadie was going to have to be looking for a new chime before they headline Treasure Island tomorrow. The chime just made its way back up to the front and by the time the band came back on stage to play their encore it was back up on stage, set up and ready for them to use again. I don’t know why, but I really enjoyed this. I think that it just underlines the respect that crowds give to bands, and that I find that kind of trust and respect magical in a day in age where that kind of stuff is hard to come by. It’s like when you pass strangers money to pass to the hot dog guy at the ball park, and then allow them to touch your food. MAGIC! Some may say a Moog is magic too!

The encore was what you’d expect from the show, two songs with a little bit of a jam that turns into a kind of slow vibe, and then picks back up and then it’s over. However the same crowd that was silent when MGMT came on, all the sudden became quite intent on having them come back out and play more. Could it be? A double encore? It was indeed. I have heard of the double encore, but I thought that it was more of a myth, much like how the AT-AT’s were taking from the Port of Oakland cranes! But no, MYTH BUSTED! It happened, the double encore, and I don’t know what it was about this double encore, but it turned MGMT into a prog band, and a really good one! They must have had this really awesome prog jam going for a good 15 minutes–straight up Rush or Coheed status. It was great, and I really hope that this is what the new album sounds like, and that they play that tomorrow night because it was great!

I’d like to take back anything I’ve said that might be slightly perceived as negative about MGMT–not that I ever disliked them–just that i was skeptical of the hype, and whereas I can’t really say that the hype lives up to the band, because it rarely ever does, seeing MGMT at the Independent was an overwhelmingly pleasant experience, and probably a whole lot better than the plans my friends wouldn’t cancel.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jessika October 17, 2009 at 9:00 am

Oh god, I am so jealous of you. I got locked out of the presale 10 minutes after it opened and the general sale sold out in four. The scalper who was gonna sell me a ticket for 4x face value bailed on me. I am a huge fan of MGMT and this just sound epic.

*cries in a corner*


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