The last time MGMT performed in Pittsburgh it was 2007 and their debut record, Oracular Spectacular, wasn’t even out yet. Needless to say Pittsburgh was long over due for a concert.
MGMT is a neo-psychedelic band that formed at Connecticut’s Wesleyan University in 2004. Their debut record skyrocketed them in worldwide fame. However since 2007′s Oracular Spectacular, MGMT has somewhat been on the chop block. Their sophomore release, Congratulations, didn’t have the “radio friendly” reception that Oracular Spectacular did (although I love it). Their latest record, MGMT, has been met with a mixed reaction due to its musical experimentation.
I myself had not listened too much of MGMT’s self titled album. I told myself before the concert I would be perfectly content with their performance if I heard any combination of “Electric Feel,” “Weekend Wars,” or “Of Moons, Birds & Monsters.” I was basically hoping to hear as much from MGMT’s first two records as possible.
MGMT opened with “Flash Delirium” and then quickly jumped into one of their “big 3,” “Time To Pretend.” Two songs into the set the entire crowd was already hooked and along for the ride. MGMT didn’t just play great music; they brought out a visual experience with them as well. A few songs into their set, frontman and singer/guitarist Andrew VanWyngarden proceeded to film the band and audience on stage with a video camera. Before I could even determine the purpose of the camera I notice everything being filmed was being projected on screen behind the band. Only everything being projected was put through a trippy and psychedelic filter. It was one of the coolest and most visually stimulating sights I had ever scene. It looked like something straight out of the 1960s.
As I said noted before, I wanted to hear “Of Moons, Birds & Monsters” live. And by god did MGMT do that. No. They completely blew it out of the water. An already nearly 5 minute song turned into a 10-minute ambient and psychedelic masterpiece.
I was truly impressed by the musicianship displayed by MGMT throughout their show. They didn’t just come out and play their music. They blended their already creative songs with their musical skills and natural improvisation. One might even say MGMT’s live “jamming” reflects the musical style of their most recent album.
MGMT continued to play an Oracular Spectacular heavy set. After they wrapped up with one of my personal favorites “Weekend Wars,” they proceeded to start their 12-minute epic, “Siberian Breaks.” The crowd was in awe. I’m not going to lie, that may have been my favorite part of the night. I did not expect to hear that. MGMT then proceeded to play (arguably) their biggest hit “Electric Feel” and a few newer tracks before heading off stage for the first time.
A giant cowbell is pushed on to stage shortly after MGMT leaves. For those who did not know, MGMT had a photo competition via Instagram. The winner got to play the cowbell on stage while MGMT performed “Your Life Is a Lie.”
The background turns back on to the same visuals from the very beginning of the show. MGMT emerges on stage with both the concert winner and former touring member Grand Buffet and performs “Your Life Is a Lie.” The two cowbell players were both funny and enthusiastic. VanWyngarden jokingly exclaimed, “Now that’s how you play the cowbell!” after Buffet and the contest winner left the stage. MGMT then continued to close the show out with, “Congratulations.”
It was Hunter S. Thompson that once said, “Buy the ticket, the ride. And if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion.” Now I’m pretty sure Mr. Thompson was not talking about an MGMT show. However, if I had to some up MGMT’s performance in a few words I would refer to the above quote.”
I went into MGMT’s show expecting to hear mainly new material and a handful of older tracks. Their show couldn’t have been any more different than what I expected. I was legitimately impressed and blown away by their performance. They went the whole nine yards. If MGMT is coming to a venue near you do yourself a favor and attend!