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the inertia
(Wednesday) 4.16.14

MGMT Vibes Out At Apogee In Santa Monica

categories: the inertia
It was an unexpectedly mature listening experience. I even waited to get drunk until after I left the studio. Photo: Jeremiah GarciaIt was an unexpectedly mature listening experience. I even waited to get drunk until after I left the studio. Photo: Jeremiah Garcia

I admit I wasn’t sure what to expect — and moreover, wasn’t sure how excited I was. I used to like MGMT. You might even say I used to like them a lot. They had this ability to lure me out of funks with their whimsical yet layered lyrics, that heavily produced electric feel (…) helping me achieve an ethereal happiness as I danced my ass off. But that was summers ago. I honestly wasn’t sure how much a relatively sober me would enjoy a group I still associated with thirty racks in college or forties and fire escapes in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Boy, oh boy, am I glad I went. Or, more fittingly: man, oh man, am I glad I went. No longer maxed out on a spastic youth, I settled into the relaxed studio staging as I had settled into my mid-twenties and began to appreciate MGMT the band, not MGMT the distraction. From the get-go, with their first set, they reintroduced themselves to me as mature musicians offering up an experience with nuances that I related to. There was no seismic shift from the group whose records I drunkenly scream-sang over at fraternity parties as it was blasted through a friend’s computer speakers, but rather small changes that made me feel comfortable and content in a controlled state, not euphoric in an uncontrollable one. It felt grown up. And as a grown up I was able to appreciate how talented these musicians were. None of this is to say that they are no longer dance-worthy, or that I won’t be one of many fans dancing to them in the near future, but MGMT is now more to me than an act I need to sweat to.

Classics such as “Time to Pretend” and “The Youth” were interspersed among “Cool Song No 2″ and other tunes from their most recent studio album, the eponymous MGMT. The band members didn’t move much — and at one point reference was made to a light show of sorts they generally have playing in the background, a light show frontman Andrew VanWyndgarden said kept the audience entertained — but they didn’t need to move much. Their music stands on its own and is better heard than seen, a testament to their tunes transcending mere gimmicks, however much they employ instruments like air dusters at the beginning of “Electric Feel.” The only problem, really, was an overzealous drummer. Or the fact that in such a small room — this wasn’t Coachella, the festival they were playing the weekends on the either side of this private show — the cymbal is much louder than the lead vocals. But when he wasn’t smashing his drums, everything was good and everything sounded right.

In between sets, during an interview intermission with VanWyngarden and keyboardist Ben Goldwasser, we were allowed a glimpse into the downplayed personalities behind the music. Jason Bentley, KCRW’s Music Director and the host of Morning Becomes Eclectic, wasn’t able to coax too much from the timid duo, but we did find out that Andrew shops for vintage t-shirts on eBay and surfs (when he’s able to borrow a board) while Ben is into computer programming. As Andrew said, they’re “fully domesticated.”

With the evening’s overriding sentiment of a mutual graduation to this later, more mature stage of our lives, it was appropriate that the last song of the show was “Congratulations,” an introspective song about outside expectations and self-perception from their second album. How we’ve grown.

Bentley, backstage, with the band. Photo: Jeremiah GarciaBentley, backstage, with the band. Photo: Jeremiah Garcia

For more information on KCRW’s Apogee Sessions, check out their website.


This article is published on solspot.com via our partner: The Inertia

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