We made our way to the Palace Theatre for the second time in a week, only this time to see the more poppy MGMT. I was a little sceptical of them going in; their first album had been a huge success, helped by the youthful catchiness of a few songs (namely Kids, Time to Pretend and Electric Feel) but lacked in substance otherwise, whilst their second album was the complete opposite; lacking in hits, yet more complete.
Supporting them on the night was a group from Perth known as Pond. With three of the four members of Tame Impala also in Pond, I expected a very similar sound to Tame Impala. When you consider how big Tame Impala have become in recent months, it must be a refreshing change to play as a support act, with a little less pressure on you. And despite my cynicism at the time, I actually quite enjoyed Pond. The lead singer Paisley Adams looked like he was 12 years old, and acted that way with his nonsensical dance moves and acted like a kid high on red cordial. But ignoring his immaturity and lack of stage presence (and the crowd, which I’ll get to later) in hindsight Pond were almost equal to MGMT.
Now, MGMT burst onto the scene a few years back after only two years as a band. Perhaps this explains their lack of dominance on stage. These days, record companies give out so many contracts a lot of bands don’t have time to truly develop a live sound. And I believe MGMT are a true example of this. On the whole, their albums are good, but at times it appeared they were just going through the motions while performing. I could have had a similar experience listening to their MP3s through a set of speakers. But I digress…
They opened with one of my favourite songs, Weekend Wars and I was surprised at the lack of movement in the crowd. In fact, at one point the lady behind me asked me to move because I was “blocking her view.” Now I’m not one to be rude, but we’re in a moshpit. If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the fire. Much to my disappointment, the first song they played that was passable came fourth in the set (directly after an incredibly underwhelming Time to Pretend). While not a huge fan of the song itself, Song for Dan Treacy was an early highlight, mainly because the crowd started loosening up.
After a few more filler tracks, the band launched into probably the best run of the night. Maybe it was due to a hilariously rowdy trio forcing their way to the centre of the mosh (one of them acting “like a 17-year-old on his first pill, loving it”) but the three songs Flash Delirium, Electric Feel and It’s Working got the crowd really moving, particularly at the end of It’s Working. Unfortunately this enthusiasm was dampened as the band moved into a huge filler section (there was a fair bit of this). With most of the hits gone, most of the crowd only knew Kids, and grew impatient waiting. It seemed that the band knew this and were trying to build suspense, but there lengthy solos during some of the songs appeared as a sign of arrogance.
But finally they finished their main set with Kids and one of our favourites off the new album, Brian Eno. It is a bit of an error for me to say “they” played Kids, because unfortunately only the drummer was playing as the rest of the band wanked around the stage. Yeah sure, it was fun to mosh to and the crowd was intense but again, one could have done the same in the bedroom (wanking around included)
Their customary encore songs were played and I’m sure much of the crowd just felt obliged to stay around, having invested so much time and the closer Congratulations was well played but the you can’t help but feel the gig would have been better if they had closed with Kids or Time to Pretend.
In the end, I was very disappointed in this gig. With music like MGMT’s I expected a really energetic, lively gig, but this was not so. With seemingly 90% of the crowd not knowing MGMT had released songs other than Kids, there were very little positives about the gig. Until I got a setlist at the end.