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Monday, June 21, 2010

MGMT w/ Tame Impala @ The Riverside Theater

June 20, 2010

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When the guys in the indie rock band MGMT were faced with following up their celebrated debut album, Oracular Spectacular, they had the choice of making more music in the vein of their hit “Kids” or letting the music take them in a new, more psychedelic direction. They opted for the latter path, and while their new Congratulations has garnered a mixed response, there didn’t seem to be any disagreement about the band’s show Sunday night at the Riverside Theater, where the group mixed the old with the new.

Playing in front of a giant video-panel backdrop, MGMT didn’t waste much time, jumping between their two albums’ differing brands of energized rock and pop dripping with synthesizers, guitars, keyboards and other instruments. The sold-out crowd got the best of both worlds; there were high-octane guitar punches of energy, hypnotic, psychedelic doses of ’60s-drenched rock ’n’ roll, surf rock and New Wave songs, many of which floated slowly before bolting to life in a full-blown sprint.

The band’s set included album selections like “Flash Delirium,” “Electric Feel,” “The Youth,” “It’s Working,” “Weekend Wars,” “Brian Eno,” “Time to Pretend” and a slightly stripped-down acoustic version of “Pieces of What,” which gave way to the band jamming out. Many songs played out like a journey, especially the 12-minute epic “Siberian Breaks” from Congratulations, a song that wandered through fields of echoing piano and guitars.

The night’s only flaw came when the band played their mega-hit “Kids” at the beginning of the encore, which produced a sea of jumping fans as the group (and members of opener Tame Impala) brought their energy to climactic proportions. It seemed like a bit of a letdown when the band ended with slower, more subdued songs—then again, the band has repeatedly shown that they don’t want to let that one hit define them. They finished the night with the title track “Congratulations,” as if to thank the crowd for following along with them as they explored new directions.

Opener Tame Impala played swaggering rock ’n’ roll marked by trippy guitars tuned way up, droning distortion and disorienting jams.

Photo by CJ Foeckler

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