The Orpheum Theatre in Boston
By Sam Schraub
MGMT, the band you know because their song “Kids” has made it onto every playlist for a party you’ve ever made is back and better than ever. After a musical hiatus following their 2013 self-titled album, fans were unsure of when MGMT would return. Ten years to the month of the release of their debut album Oracular Spectacular, MGMT boldly released “Little Dark Age,” what would be the first single off of their album of the same name. With that aptly titled dark single, MGMT have proven they can transcend the timeliness of “Electric Feel” that soundtracked every rave from 2008 onward.
MGMT have now brought Little Dark Age to life with their Little Dark Age Tour, which recently transitioned from Europe to its United States run. On March 16 the band played at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston, transforming the small, seated venue into a place where anything in reality could be possible- even just for one night.
The night opened with a set from Matthew Dear, an electronically experimental instrumentalist and singer whose playfulness in mixing echoed MGMT’s music itself.
A crowd full of beanie-headed skater boys sharing vape pens may have signified it wasn’t 2008 anymore. But despite the lapse in time, there was no decrease in excitement when Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser finally stepped out through the fog machine-produced haze and onto the stage. The duo started with the 80’s inspired and synth-heavy “Little Dark Age.” Under the chandeliered ceiling of the Orpheum, the song transformed the theater into a space that felt like resonant of the gothic mansion in the “LDA” music video.
A band that embraces existentialism, MGMT followed “Little Dark Age” up with “When You Die,” a song that- as the title suggests- questions death. A screen on stage projected disturbing images from the music video bringing the hallucination to life. Being in the middle of an MGMT show is surreal because of their lighting and visuals. It’s an engrossing experience, unsettling at times, but ultimately dreamlike - characteristics of a show that sets MGMT aside from every other musical act. They’re not afraid to overwhelm their audience with the feelings they describe through their lyrics and videos.
Another song from Little Dark Age, “She Works Out Too Much” got the crowd “ready to have some fun.” Andrew VanWyngarden, who refuses to take himself seriously, busted out a stationary bicycle to sit on as he sang, pedaling away. One of the fan highlights of the night was the unclose performance of “When You’re Small,” for which the band sat on the edge of the stage, Ben Goldwasser playing a child’s piano. “Me and Michael” was by far the favorite of the night. Although their music video for the song is a meta jab at consumerism and plagiarism in the music industry, the live performance was nothing serious of the sorts, just sheer fun. With a chorus that echoes “solid as they come,” it’s an empowering piece that when sung by thousands of people at the same time makes anything feel like a possibility.
There was no forgetting the classic songs like “Electric Feel” and “Time to Pretend” that got MGMT to where they are now. When the band played a rendition of “Kids” mixed with “The Never Ending Story” there was this intangible nostalgic quality that made everybody forget their problems and just bask in the glory of the magic of the past. In our little dark age, MGMT made everything feel like it was going to be alright.