Connecticut based alt-rock group MGMT paid a visit to the Electric Factory as part of their tour supporting their most recent, self-titled record. While many might know MGMT for its quintessentially catchy hits such as “Electric Feel” and “Kids” off their debut album, the band has developed a remarkably diversified sonic lexicon in their mere 3 records. That said, either a poor mix or the generally muddy acoustics of the Electric Factory made the electronic aspect of their music offered by keyboardist Benjamin Goldwasser tend to become lost, which is a real shame; it’s what makes their sound so unique.
MGMT opened up with “Flash Delerium”, a song off their sophomore album. It’s a song that very well recapitulates the group’s style, beginning with an 8-bit synth intro and moving into driving, psychedelic rock. They worked their way into “Time to Pretend”, during which they incorporated a bit more guitar than is present on the album, making the dynamic synth-rock track into a true rock song. During the third song, “Introspection”, a Faine Jade cover off their most recent record, frontman Andrew VanWyngarden doubled as a cameraman, carrying around a small video camera whose feed was projected onto the large backdrop, not without a fair deal of psychedelic effects, of course. While this certainly was a unique and interesting use of performance technology, the video became the focus of the song and some potential gusto was lost.
Moving back into older material, the group played “Of Moons, Birds & Monsters”, which didn’t realize its full potential until its coda; VanWyngarden’s vocals were a bit muddy for my taste, but the masterly composed synth and guitar theme towards its end sounded excellent, especially for the venue’s acoustics. Those very acoustics, however, did not bode well for the next song, “Mystery Disease”, a noise-rock chorale from the new record. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed both “Weekend Wars” and “Siberian Breaks”, which both voyage through the dissonant and elaborate melodies and sounds of the 60s and 70s; both tunes use barely any artificial instrumentation and ended up sounding beautiful.
The best performance of the evening, in my opinion, was “Electric Feel”, a song that is definitive of MGMT’s musical identity. I appreciated their willingness to replace its near hectic electronic coda with a guitar solo, once again lending well to the venue and running in conjunction with the psychedelic rock theme of the show. For encores, they offered “The Handshake” and “Congratulations”, two songs with a slower pace that ended up leaving them somewhat unremarkable.
I cannot say much about MGMT’s opener, Kuroma; their upbeat rock style fell prey to the venue’s sound, though I give them credit for bringing energy and enthusiasm. MGMT’s performance at the Electric Factory could have been better; songs like “Cool Song No. 2” and “Your Life is a Lie” that shine on their most recent record ended up sounding busy and lacked clarity. While there was no lack of energy and spirit, the band could have done a better job engaging the crowd. That said, fans were definitely enjoying themselves, and after all, the point of a concert is to have fun, isn’t it?