by / November 6th, 2008 /

MGMT, Ambassador, Dublin (4th Nov)

The first thing we notice is the stage set-up: no backdrop, as one would be used to seeing at big gigs. Instead, MGMT have cactus plants, and lots of them, made out of Pyrex with various lights shining through them.

Expectation has been rabid around this gig since their tumultuous Oxegen performance during the summer, so when the band arrive on stage, the crowd go absolutely beserk, not necessarily because they like the opener, -Pieces Of What’, but because MGMT are there, in the same room, only metres away from them. This all changes, however, when the five-piece lunge into -Electric Feel’, which gets the entire Ambassador dancing. We’re not sure if anyone believes frontman Andrew VanWyngarden’s first words (‘Dublin is the best place in the world’) but who cares when everyone pretends to, and -Weekend Wars’ is blasting through the PA, soon followed by the momentous -Time To Pretend’ – although shame on the obviously confused audience members close to us who kept shouting ‘Sex is on fire’ for the entire show and weren’t joking.

MGMT are a curious mix between Led Zeppelin, The Polyphonic Spree, The Beatles and a bunch of kids. These guys can definitely impress with their live set, drumming up nostalgia for an era most of their audience never witnessed, like a scene from Almost Famous or Dazed And Confused. Take out the flares and the hippy dippy bullshit and we’ve got to admit that we like it. Unfortunately, two songs later, MGMT make a big mistake.

The backing track starts, Ben Goldwasser begins to wind himself up, and then we’re there: VanWyngarden mouthing the opening line to -Kids’. The crowd work themselves into a frenzy, as a massive Fender guitar is wheeled on stage and the band start to throw some shapes with it. It’s absolutely incredible, but it should have been the encore. Following this up with -Metanoia’, one of the B-sides from -Time To Pretend’, is not a wise move. Barely anyone knows what the song is, let alone are they in the mood for a long, drawn-out, mellow affair after what should have been the big bang to go out on.

That blunder aside, however, MGMT rocked our world and from now on, every time we listen to Oracular Spectacular, we like them a little more.

Photo from Flickr user Sarah Buckley.

  • The Go To

    They were the very defintion of a studio band. It sounded terrible live, the set was ultra short, so short they decided to play Metanoia which is the musical equivalent of masturbation, that is to say they enjoyed playing it but nobody enjoyed hearing it. People were leaving early en masse. No rapport with the crowd whatsoever. The Walkmen on Sunday was far far better. Was a fan of MGMT before the gig, but definitely am not now. Awful

  • Laura Lee-Conboy

    I guess it’s a matter of opinion. I heard they were pretty bad on the monday night. From where I was standing the crowd seemed to love it.

  • “so when the band arrive on stage, the crowd go absolutely beserk, not necessarily because they like the opener, ‘Pieces Of What’, but because MGMT are there, in the same room, only metres away from them.” – that basically sums up all of their performances.

    MGMT are so rabidly chased and adored by fans that they feel they can just rock out some stodgy music, sing karaoke to one of their biggest songs and throw out Time To Pretend and Electric Feel. I saw them three times this summer and they were rubbish almost every time. The album is good, but they need to learn that just because everyone is screaming at them, doesn’t mean they’re doing a good job on the stage.

  • Cocolala

    Kids was the encore on Monday night. I thought the gig was good but it couldn’t compare with the craziness of Oxegen.

    They are like the Barack Obama of music… a hell of a lot is expected of them. I have to admit, even though I’m an absolute fan of theirs, that the album is wanting and only the most hardcore of fans could love the entire gig from start to finish. There will always be the fans who only know two songs and I’m sure they were enthralled by the songs they recognised. For those of us who have listened to the album in its entirety, it’s safe to say that the gig was good but not great. They aren’t living up to expectations… I guess it’s just another case of the curse of they hype band.

  • Simon

    I was at the Monday night show and I thought the sound was terrible. I don’t blame the band for this, before the performance there was at lest 10 different techs onstage and 6 different guys soundchecked the drums and drum mikes… not a good sign. I don’t know if this was the bands crew or the Ambsssadors but I’ve heard that usually the venue has a good reputation sound wise.

    I was also at their first Irish show in the Academy many months ago (on their own, not supporting CSS and Futureheads). It was incredible and puts paid to The Go To’s comment that they are the “very defintion of a studio band.” Also, because the sound was a lot better, Metanoia sounded impressive and the Kids finale was brilliant instead of just sounding like a boomy mush coming through the speakers.

    One other thing… at the Academy gig they had a different guitar player and their current guitar player was the drummer. He had a different sound, not as blunt and obvious… more subtle and melodic.