MGMT/Dinosaur Jr. – Barclays Center – December 13, 2013
Underage was the word that occurred to me as I watched fans stream into Barclays Center on Friday night: goofy-looking dudes with skinny necks and hats on sideways, girls covered in colorful crop tops and fluorescent face paint. So when I got to my seat and saw a woman older than my mom sitting nearby, I had to talk to her. Good-natured ushers rebuffed my first two attempts, though, and I enjoyed the openers, Kuroma and Dinosaur Jr., from the comfort of my own section. Kuroma delivered excellent, jangly rock tunes and with three MGMT members gave an exciting preview of the show to come. Dinosaur Jr., playing mostly to teens who weren’t born when they first broke up, didn’t disappoint either. J Mascis ripped off a succession beautiful, frenetic solos as they barged through deceptively simple rockers, highlights being “Feel the Pain” and a thunderous cover of “Just Like Heaven,” which brought their set to a sing-along close.
Finally, I made my way over to the white-haired woman and was astounded to learn she was bass player Matt Asti’s mom. After trading memories of past shows, I asked if she ever thought her son would be a rock star. “When he was three months old, I took him to an astrologist who said he’d make his living onstage. So I guess I should have known,” she replied. And with that, the lights began to dim, so I said a quick goodbye and good luck. The latter, as it turned out, was completely unnecessary. Opening with “Flash Delirium” followed by “Time to Pretend,” Asti and his bandmates had the crowd standing and screaming right away.
MGMT’s set was a rousing blend of Oracular Spectacular’s catchy tunes and their other albums’ more psychedelic fare. The show also featured trippy, Spirographic projections, a remote-controlled flying saucer and surprise guests—little known 1960s psych rocker Faine Jade, who came out to sing his “Introspection” (which MGMT covered on their eponymous new album), and Gibby Haynes, of Butthole Surfers, who joined them to sporadically bang on an massive cowbell and jump into the crowd during “Your Life Is a Lie” and “Kids.” MGMT then treated fans to two of the new album’s best songs (“Alien Days” and “Cool Song No. 2”), plus an epic encore of “Congratulations.” And if everyone else was as lucky as I was, they got to see Ms. Asti dancing in the aisle all show long. —Mickey Novak