‘MGMT’ @ First Avenue

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How does a band, originally slated to play the 5000 person Roy Wilkins, handle the move to the much smaller 1500 person First Avenue Mainroom? Quite gracefully actually, if not ignoring it altogether.

Entering to a rock radio station like pre-recorded announcement, the band quietly took the stage to a roaring sold out crowd Monday night at First Avenue. They started off their jammin’ 80 minute set with “Weekend Wars” off their first full length album with the six members taking up all the available room on the Mainroom’s stage, playing in front of a full screen showing what I can only describe as a modern version of a 60’s style Windows 95 screensaver.

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Following the third song, also off their first album, lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden addressed the crowd by introducing the first new album song of the show, “Introspection.” For this song, VanWyngarden took a GoPro camera linked to the screen behind the band, to give the song some illustration. While sometimes giving a close up of the keyboards or other members of the band, VanWyngarden would closely stare into the lens while maneuvering around the somewhat cramped stage and interacting with the crowd.

Wondering if or how they may address the fact that they were downgraded to a much smaller venue, presumably from poor ticket sales, VanWyngarden said, “It’s cool to play at First Ave.” So there you have it.

Fifty minutes in, the band played “Electric Feel,” which, not surprisingly, got easily the biggest response of the night. And soon thereafter they broke into “Kids,” which not only got a great response from the crowd but also provided a moment for the band to jam a little. Utilizing the GoPro again, VanWyngarden wandered the stage, played with the crowd and joined Hank Sullivant on keyboards. With the crowd buzzing, VanWyngarden declared, “You all comprise a great group of people.” Which is something polite to say, right? They ended the set with “Alien Days,” one of four songs they performed off the new album, MGMT.

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MGMT returned to the stage after a few minutes to play their last two songs, “Your Life Is a Lie” and “Pieces of What,” then left the stage as quietly as they started.

This was an interesting show albeit a good one, and one which surpassed my (low) expectations. Interesting in that a band that took quite a detour in sound from their first album, chose half their set from that first album, and less than a third of the set came from the new album. In the end, the combination of songs worked well, and if you could get past their awkward stage presence, you likely had yourself a good time.

Photos via: PJ Mudd

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