MGMT’s latest release, their 3rd full length, was a self-titled album.
That is always a meaningful gesture for a band. But just what it means to Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser is anyone’s guess because trying to get a straight answer out of them is near impossible.
Equal parts playful, sarcastic, and genuinely oddball, the duo seem like unlikely rockstars who are still coping with their fame and using their time in the spotlight to share the music they really love — a lot more psychedlia and a lot less pop than their blockbuster debut.
They started their set, in front of a live audience as part of KCRW’s Apogee Sessions series, with the excellent “Alien Days“, the lead single off “MGMT“, and followed with two other new tracks.
Under gentle red light, the psychedelic sway of “Cool Song No. 2” surrounded the crowd in a warm embrace of sound until they blasted into their hit “Time to Pretend” and the energy in the room skyrocketed.
It’s no exaggeration to say it’s one of the best pop songs of the last 10 years and it’s thrilling to hear it live.
They followed with “Introspection“, a cover of the title track from a late 60’s psych classic from Faine Jade. The album — the only full length Faine Jade released — is a highly coveted collector’s item and considered a minimalist psychedelic masterpiece.
If a band shows their hand in their choice of covers, maybe this is all you really need to know about MGMT. (and that they love the Grateful Dead, but more on that later.)
With his eyes closed through almost the entire show, Andrew is not a frontman that craves the spotlight and that fact was made even clearer during a mid-set interview with host Jason Bentley.
After a brief chat about their 3 Coachella appearances (which is pretty impressive), Jason inquired about their lives off stage to which Andrew replied “we are domesticated fully”.
They managed to eek out a few responses about what they do in their free time that seemed semi-sincere — Andrew searches for vintage t-shirts on eBay and surfs while Ben is into computer programming.
After a few random comments (joking that the gear cases behind them were “completely full of cats”) and actions (using an air duster to mimic the beginning of “Electric Feel“), Jason was able to get a complete answer to one question. Who would their top hologram collaborator be?
After some discussion about the fact that the person would need to be deceased — and with their wry sense of humor leading the way — they decided they would have to kill Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir, just so they could bring him back as their ideal hologram.
The poignancy of their song “The Youth” seemed in total juxtaposition to the silliness of their interview, and was a beautiful display of their talent.
Then they took us on an epic ride with “Siberian Breaks“. And with Andrew repeating “I hope I die before I get sold” (perhaps a riff on The Who’s “My Generation”), it seemed to be the biggest statement of the night about what we can expect from them in the future,
The big finish was the crowd-pleasing “Electric Feel” from their debut and, my personal favorite, the title track from their sophomore album, “Congratulations“. It’s so reflective and introspective, it gets me every time and was the perfect end to the evening.
The session was mixed by Bob Clearmountain and will air on KCRW on Monday, April 28.
MGMT Live on KCRW – Set List
* Alien Days
* Cool Song No 2
* Mystery Disease
Time to Pretend