Bournemouth gets the Electric Feel

Posted on: December 3, 2010

Gig review I wrote dated 27/09/10.

Psychedelic rockers MGMT took to Bournemouth’s O2 Academy last Friday, kicking off their biggest headline tour to date. The Grammy-nominated Brooklyn band treated a dedicated audience to big hits from 2008 debut ‘Oracular Spectacular’, whilst filling the moments between favourites with new material from the perhaps less exciting second album ‘Congratulations’.

Sporting an oversized yellow tee with spray on skinnies and pointed winklepickers, long haired front man Andrew VanWyngarden was on usual vibrant hippy form. “I can’t decide whose cooler out of you guys, front middle or back” he told the crowd – hyped with indie kids, some surprisingly young, who packed the front like bopping sardines. The sold-out audience definitely got older towards the back, with an appreciative adult appeal demonstrated by those milled around the bar, showing the occasional restrained head nod.

Launching into the synth-pumped hits that earned the New York duo mainstream success – such as ‘The Youth’ and ‘Weekend Wars’, proved to be sure fire crowd pleasers. The place erupted with ‘Electric Feel’, quite literally (queue fist throws in the air and squeals of excitement) as they performed this other well known favourite. The old opera house venue was illuminated with colour, as screens shooting psychedelic patterns of bubbles and flashing images were enough to cause some kind of enjoyable brain injury. MGMT’s 70s influenced image of tie-dye techno colours and tousled hair certainly carried off on stage and amongst enthusiastic fans – many of which honoured the band with replicas of their symbolic floral headband.

Weaved between the electro melodies was the slower country sound of their new material. The less upbeat songs such as ‘Flash Delirium’ and ‘Someone’s Missing’ seemed somewhat less well received and failed to bring most of the audience to even dance, sing along, or show many signs of having a wild time – aside from the cool kids at the front of course. Although a more mature sounding album than their debut, the vibe didn’t seem to work so well live as tunes from ‘Oracular’ did. Even fellow band member Ben Goldwasser himself claimed that the band “wouldn’t be able to write another kids.” As one of Rolling Stone’s top albums of the last decade, MGMT’s debut was going to be tough to follow up, particularly after mainstream audiences grasped their unique sound when ‘Kids’ was sampled in Chiddy Bang’s mashed up mess inventively titled ‘Opposite of Adults’.

Oracular Spectacular and Congratulations Album artworks.

As with many treasured indie acts, RnB rappers tearing up samples of classic tracks is unfortunately becoming quite a trend for chart success. Clearly the Bournemouth crowd were a mixture of diehard fans and those who heard of MGMT through the grapevine of a schoolgirl’s iPod, but one thing was for sure – when VanWyngarden said “You guys have to get really loud for this one”, they did. Debut single and personal favourite ‘Time to Pretend’ got the crowd simultaneously chanting “do do do do do do do” in ecstasy.

The general stage presence lacked at times, but the singer did bring out a tambourine on occasion – to smash with his fist whilst shaking his head. The energetic atmosphere was contrasted with VanWyngarden’s delicate voice and high pitched backing vocals. The encore that was the famous ‘Kids’ left the crowd attentive throughout the low key numbers, but they certainly went home happy. However, it remains to be seen whether MGMT’s infectious beats can continue to make waves across the industry and their loyal fans – this isn’t the last we’ll see of them by any means, but let’s hope the next album brings the hypnotic indie-pop we know and love.

If you want to listen to MGMT then visit their LastFM page. Alternatively, visit their official website for upcoming your dates and information.

For more listings of upcoming gigs at the O2 Academy venue in Bournemouth, visit the website or take a look at the Facebook page.


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