by / March 22nd, 2010 /

MGMT – Academy, Dublin

MGMT were made for venues like The Academy. Packed to the rafters with vivacious fans who stop just a touch short of hero worship, the Connecticut natives – dressed in thrift store chic (pink t-shirts and purple skin tight trousers abound) and lit by swirling blends of purple and green – proceed to demonstrate exactly why they’re not playing somewhere substantially bigger. Even at just over a month’s notice, there’s little doubt MGMT could have sold out a far more sizable venue tonight, but in keeping things low key they ensure a more atmospheric, personal show, one that will live long in the memory of those lucky enough to grab the sought after tickets.

This tour serves a dual purpose, of course: small venues offer the perfect chance for the band to air their new material, but MGMT aren’t the types to leave their fans wanting, and as the balloons ping around the front of The Academy, they make sure they drop every major hit along the way, too. Tonight’s set is a roughly even mix of tracks from Oracular Spectacular and new material the forthcoming follow up Congratulations. There’s always been a hint of Brian Wilson to MGMT, like ‘Beach Boys do electro’, yet a few of the newer tracks are more oddball psychedelic than we’ve come to expect. Think jarring keyboard layering, bongos and chorus-free tracks that add an intriguing, experimental new dimension to the live show. Mixing in the likes of -Song for Dan Treacy’ (which gets a especially large cheer for the Irish connection) with well-lauded album tracks like the haunting -Pieces of What’ and an outstanding rendition of -Electric Feel’ certainly makes for an enticing blend. Newcomer -Brian Eno’ – a suitable tribute – encompasses the increasingly psychedelic outlook well, managing to be both brash and charmingly melancholy live.

On the higher-pitch notes, though, MGMT are operating right on the limit of their vocal range. While the pitch changes are a necessary part of their style, reproducing the peak vocal moments are certainly the band’s biggest weakness live. Still, in between clicking their heels together in a quick -Irish dance’ early on and fending off a small barrage of underwear, these guys are nothing if not entertaining, and the audience are absolutely lapping it up, particularly when -Time To Pretend’ causes a bouncing frenzy mid way through the night.

The other -big one’ – closer -Kids’ – is a classic piece of musical theatre, opening with vocalist Ben Goldwasser sitting alone on the stage front as those distinctive intro bleeps ring out. Members of the band flit on and off the stage and swap instruments in a storming end to an otherwise slow encore. MGMT have found a perfect blend tonight. The big tracks are spread throughout, the set list has a -loud, quiet, loud’ quality that keeps the crowd interested, and a handful of tracks are beefed up and blasted out live in a way that gives adds an emphatic oomph to the on-record sound. The set that occasionally seemed just a little bit lacking in depth before the release of Congratulations is – all of a sudden – astoundingly quirky and hit-crammed.

Photos: Damien McGlynn

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  • Paul C

    It’s a gig that will remain in my memory alright… For being boring.

  • Dan Breen

    Yeah they should have stook to their guns and not played kids if they didnt want to. and not sing it over the backing track, complete shit.

  • I must admit I was stood upstairs not in the thick of it, but where I was and what I saw looking down suggested it was going down really, really well. I heard a few people raving about them on the way out, too, but perhaps it was a bad idea to try and summarize the overall mood (it seems I missed the mark for at least a few).

    Personally I thought they were absolutely outstanding, though (each to their own of course). I love the new stuff, it’s gone so far from what they used to be, and though I can see why anyone would think it’s boring (especially if you’re expecting a focus on the more electro-ish stuff), personally I really can’t overemphasize how good I thought it was live. It reminds me of both Girls and Beach Boys (cross gender goodness perhaps?), and I can honestly say this was the best gig I’ve been to so far this year (I just counted, it was my 16th).

    Perhaps the ending was lame, I saw it as just an interesting way to round off what for me was a really special evening. I wasn’t even a particularly huge fan. I am now.

  • Shark Sandwich

    I’m not sure what people expect – it was obvious that the band would fill at least half of the set with new songs.

    Those who came away disappointed seem to have a different idea of what this band is. They aren’t some sort of novelty electro pop act and they are making a conscious effort to shed this image. Kids seemed to be added to the set to appease some of the fans (and it is always played with a backing track is it not?)

    I thought they nailed the new stuff and have really improved their live sound…The only thing I can fault about this gig was the crowd who talked through every song and then complained at people singing, dancing or generally enjoying themselves.

  • Dan Breen

    i guess ye are right.

    people did enjoy themselves forsure

  • Jordan

    fantastic gig!!!! Had these two gimps in front of me though who were giving out at pour singing and dancing!!!! Cheer up!!! New stuff really did fill the set and add a mature sound!!! They have drastically improved their live sound and ive videos which prove this the new stuff is fantastic live!!!!