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.