MJR & Bwank! Volume 2 – MGMT at McCarren Pool 07/27/08
Last Sunday afternoon marked the culmination of an emblematic Brooklyn-based band’s career. Whether or not you’ve witnessed one of their performances in a dingy club, like behind the Domino Sugar Factory in South Williamsburg just four months prior, any Brooklynite could supply a lengthy dissertation on MGMT’s short road to success. For it is generally regarded as the product of happenstance and epoch-making psychedelic pop music.
Yet on stage Vanwyngarden and Goldwasser, the true visionaries at the helm of the project, make it perfectly clear that they hadn’t simply succeeded with the aid of some providential wind. Initially, the aim may have been playful, seemingly tongue in cheek. But with McCarren Pool filled to capacity—literally brimming with five thousand some-odd vibrantly clad fans—they were expected to own up to it all.
Notwithstanding a slight line-up change, which finds their previous drummer manning guitar duties, MGMT rocked out steadily and patiently. Now, unlike before, the band seems to will their set into motion with pitch-perfect wailing solos and tight percussive direction. Surefire hits from 2007′s Oracular Spectacular, like “Of Moons, Birds & Monsters,” “The Youth,” “Weekend Wars,” “Time To Pretend” and even the fifteen-minute-long b-side “Metanoia,” are meticulously reconstructed with a contemplative spirit. They are brought to a degree of perfection which fans, both old and new, scarcely see.
Moreover, the band’s unprecedented precision is as rousing as it is surreal. They are now the demigods that they had once, albeit half-jokingly, regarded themselves to be. So perhaps what fans witnessed this past weekend was the Second Coming of MGMT. The very moment in which Vanwyngarden and Goldwasser reinvent themselves.
However, to assert that this magnificent sonic evolution, which extends far beyond their conceptual range, was likely to have happened would be downright fallacious. It was entirely unforeseen. And the lack of any obvious principle is still integral to their allure. But the collective ardor of their disciples will be tempered by conscious volition forevermore. Sunday’s performance revealed a distinctively different MGMT, distinguished by far more mastery and maturity than ever before.