Not Even Nerves Can Stop MGMT

August 18th, 2010

MGMT – Radio City Music Hall – August 17, 2010

MGMT - Radio City Music Hall - August 17, 2010
MGMT performed the majority of their first of two sold-out Radio City Music Hall shows covered in shadows. The focal point of the venue’s cavernous stage instead fell upon an onslaught of colorful psychedelic images and lights projected onto a backdrop of large abstract shapes. The eager crowd danced and waved glow sticks as the band played material from their most recent album, Congratulations, with the trippy visuals complementing the eclectic-retro sound on songs like “Brian Eno,” “Flash Delirium,” “It’s Working” and “Siberian Breaks.”

In addition to newer material, MGMT also played a sizable portion of their 2008 breakthrough album, Oracular Spectacular. Though two years have passed since its heyday, one of the loudest cheers of the night erupted with the opening notes of “Time to Pretend,” the group’s tongue-in-cheek tale of rock-star excess, which unwittingly became the soundtrack to every hipster BBQ and house party from Brooklyn to Brisbane that summer. Despite the fact that in the years since the song was written, MGMT founding members Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser have actually become what most would consider bona fide rock stars, with fancy magazine-cover stories and headlining slots at festivals around the world, their understated performance further cemented the fact that they have certainly not become the rock-star clichés they once wrote about.

As the show began to wind down, the modest rockers finally let the lights come up a bit during the undeniably catchy “Kids,” with Goldwasser and VanWyngarden stepping away from their instruments and awkwardly, endearingly attempting to dance with the crowd—but mostly just looking down, nodding their heads to the beat and wandering around the stage as they sang. When the song finished and the crowd erupted with approval, VanWyngarden seemed relieved, admitting in utter un-rock-star fashion that when faced with the task of playing Radio City Music Hall, “I think we were a little bit nervous.” —Alena Kastin

Photos courtesy of Greg Aiello |