MGMT play it simple at the Pavilion

A review of MGMT at the Bank of America Pavilion on August 10, 2010

, Managing Editor

Since receiving an exuberant amount of mainstream success after the release of 2008’s Oracular Spectacular, it seems MGMT have been irked a bit by their newfound fame. The group’s post-success experiences were the theme for their latest LP, Congratulations. While the former spawned huge pop hits (“Time To Pretend”, “Electric Feel”, “Kids”), in an escape attempt from the pop scene, the latter is more focused on the music as a whole rather than a few successful singles. These sentiments were clearly on display in the band’s surprisingly simplistic set at the Bank of America Pavilion on Tuesday night.

MGMT has become accustom to playing in front of tens of thousands of fans at festivals across the globe so the few thousand on hand at the Pavilion was nothing overwhelming for the group, who treated the nearly sold out show like it was a club gig. The band performed in near darkness under dimly lit colored lights for the majority of the show, engaged in little banter, and stood before a modest stage setting for a band with such refreshing creativity.

Although Congratulations was released to initial success, it hasn’t gone on to produce comparably catchy numbers to its predecessor. The result of this was easy to see in the fans reception on Tuesday night. Newer singles “Flash Delirium” and “It’s Working” didn’t stand a chance against radio-staple groove tracks like “Electric Feel” and “Time To Pretend”. Perhaps even realizing this, midway through the show guitarist James Richardson let out an acquiescent “OK” before taking to the organ for “Time To Pretend”.

Not to say the new tunes weren’t worth fans attention. “Someone’s Missing” generated some clapping along to the building open, while Richardson starred on both electric sitar and hand drums. Despite it’s undeservingly modest reception, “It’s Working” was one of their finest performances with it’s early Pink Floyd-like tones and harmonies. However, they lost the audience’s attention with “Siberian Breaks”, thanks to its calm demeanor and lengthy performance, as some fans sat for the only time during the show and others hit the concessions. They had built up so much energy with “Time To Pretend” it was a shame to see it wither away. Fortunately, they followed it up with “Kids” as founding members Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser relieved themselves of their instruments and roamed the stage while Richardson played with a frog hand puppet, mouthing the lyrics with his inanimate friend (yes, you read that right).

Although they had already played the songs most fans had come to hear, MGMT returned for an encore that was fittingly concluded with the charming “Congratulations”, which is also the last track on the new release. The song ended with a deservingly grander ovation than it does on the album cut. Still, after an adequate performance at the Pavilion, there’s no question that this novel group has the potential for much greater acclaim.

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