Touring in support of their latest release, Congratulations, MGMT, bring an ever-expanding electro-psychedelic pop sound to the Voodoo Fest stage. Their party-favor induced hallucinations, fables of disenfranchisement and tribal bonding with the current generation make for a raucous live performance.
Founding members Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser were freshman at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Conn., when their sonic collaboration began. By the time they graduated in 2005, what started as dorm room experimentation with noise-based electronica had accelerated into a full-blown psychedelic pop universe.
After touring extensively in support of their Time to Pretend EP, the band was signed by Columbia records in 2007, and paired with the Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann. The result was their smash debut, Oracular Spectacular.
This tripped out, acid-singed journey through MGMT’s three-dimensional imagination gave listeners a glimpse into the band’s parallel land of pleasure and spite. While the surface sound is filled with happy swirls of David Bowie-esque falsettos, the lyrics depict a darker realty MGMT is confronting.
On Weekend Wars, there’s a coming to grips with a self-entitlement that runs contrary to what is required to succeed in life. Still they don’t take it all too seriously, and poke fun at the ridiculous excess that comes with rock stardom.
Let’s make some music, make some money, find some models for wives. I’ll move to Paris, shoot some heroin, and fuck the stars ~ MGMT, from Time to Pretend.
This celebration in the face of desperation is the twist that makes MGMT so compelling, and earned them two Grammy Award nominations.
Now living in Brooklyn, NY, VanWyngarden and Goldwasser recruited producer Sonic Boom, from the space-rock band Spaceman 3, to build upon the success of their first disc. The result was their release earlier this year, Congratulations.
While their sophomore effort has been greeted with mixed reviews, it continues to gain traction. Much of the criticism is venom over MGMT not basking in their success, and simply following the formula of Oracular Spectacular, and producing another batch of hit-laden psych-pop.
To MGMT’s credit they instead took a deeper look inside where this success delivered them, and are comfortable in not leaving behind their true identities.
Congratulations has a heftier feel to it, with less trance-pop, and more substantial underpinnings of bass, guitar and drums, which are handled by three additional musicians when MGMT is on tour.
The drug use is always up front on both recordings, and is part of what binds these artists with their audience. Whether it’s the echoed vocals, or that the handshake they share with their fans doesn’t come in the conventional style, but takes place with what’s slipped under their tongues.
Like one of their art-rock forefathers, the Velvet Underground, MGMT shares Lou Reed’s affinity for living in the here and now, as noted in their mantra below.
This is our decision, to live fast and die young…We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun ~ MGMT, from Time to Pretend.
Come see this psychedelic universe in motion at Voodoo Fest on Halloween night. MGMT play at 5:30 PM on the appropriately named Sony Make.Believe stage.
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Published by: Gambit New Orleans | Vol 31, No. 43, p. 16 | 10-26-10