As odd as it may seem while reading this, sometimes you have to be willing to make a 15 hour bus trip, survive an earthquake and stand hours under a burning sun in order to be able to go to a concert (and get a nice tan in the process). After a huge letdown by a band a few days before this show, many of us felt uneasy about risking our time and effort for another potentially poor live show. But those faithful sacrifices can pay off and turn common days into milestones on your concert agenda.
Making their first stop at the feared Palacio de los Deportes (learn why within the Arctic Monkeys’ concert review) in México City, MGMT came back after an almost 4 year long absence, when they first stepped on Mexican territory in the now non-existent Motorokr Festival (when their first album Oracular Spectacular had just being released). And now, promoting their latest record Congratulations, and booking two dates in our country out of 7 in their short Latin-American tour; Andrew VanWyngarden, Ben Goldwasser, Will Berman, Matt Asti and James Richardson step into the awkward “second record” challenge. Are they good enough to have a long and creative career or Oracular Spectacular was just a lucky hit?
MGMT’s Flash Delirium off of ‘Congratulations’
As hundreds of fans were standing in line early on that Wednesday morning, an earthquake was felt throughout the city before entrance to the venue was allowed. Surprisingly enough, no one was willing to give up their place. We are a hardcore audience. But were we prepared for what was going to come? As some early footage of MGMT might show, the band seemingly sometimes performs lazy live shows, even using backup tracks when they “played” Kids and with pretty bad vocals. Luckily, artistic evolution makes wonders on an artist’s heart from time to time.
Inside the Copper Dome, black curtains covered the upper sections of the venue, and only a fence divided the court zone into two separated areas. After a decent and light opening act in the hands of Javiera Mena, a quick job done by the roadies to set the stage and no signs of any more earthquakes of pranks of nature; the place went pitch black and a gigantic disco ball with an enormous screen on the back made the shape of 5 individuals visible. Instruments were handed, amplifiers and bodies were turned on and that Wednesday had an electric feel: I Found A Whistle was first.
And no, this was not the MGMT people talked about almost 4 years ago. This wasn’t a one record wonder apparition resting in their aging success. These guys were not those cocky kids using backup tracks in a couple songs during their live shows and with lazy vocals. The MGMT we were hearing is a music train in motion, a band evolving and taking itself seriously. More importantly; they are taking their public seriously. What could’ve been an easy way out, like doing more Time To Pretend clones and stop proposing new ideas and themes, is no longer an option. MGMT did it the hard way: Congratulations is a fantastic record and their show is worth the spent (either if its time, money or safety what you invested).
After the Whistle, along came Weekend Wars, Time To Pretend (one of the most sang along themes, obviously), a tribute to Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (Electricity). With each different theme, the background showed a different animation; but the audience kept on singing and throwing gifts to the stage: rag dolls, stuffed bunnies, flowers. And what did we all get in return? Thank yous from Andrew VanWyngarden on each break, smiles from the rest of the band, deliverance: a proper live show! They even survived the main challenge the Palacio de los Deportes has to offer: its tradition of bad sounding concerts. Not much of a challenge for a great band with a good sound engineer.
Contemporary anthems as Flash Delirium and Electric Feel provided more than one icing on this huge cake. The gift of a brand new song as Alien Days was given. But the most memorable moment was the extra 3 minutes improvised on the spot on Kids, with a rain of bunny-like stuffed animals covering the center of the stage. With thousands of throats asking for more, the background had one more animation projected and the gigantic disco ball spun for one last theme: Congratulations. The Band’s The Weight twin sister.
Saying goodbye with such a ballad, so simple yet so breathtaking and so oddly different from what you could expect from the makers of synth-pop-rock hymns, resumes the evolution of MGMT in its entirety. It showcases their potential and versatility. They are good both in the studio and up on a stage. Thank you, MGMT. The long trip, the earthquake and the tan gained by many of your fans was worth it. We took what we needed from them, passion. And we turned it into a milestone in our lives. This is what the concert world is for: feeling electricity. Congratulations!
Jorge A. López Mendicuti | Senior Writer