Night Trip

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Last Friday night, the Greek Theatre, enclosed by a grove of trees aglow with green and orange lights, looked like an enchanting storybook alcove. Three panels adorned the stage, serving as screens upon which kaleidoscopic images were projected. One had the hooked form of a wave, mirroring MGMT’s “Congratulations” album cover, and the stage was bathed in blue and green lights. A plush toy duck with a mohawk sat perched on top an organ.

And yet, for all its staging, MGMT’s concert seemed less a performance than a jam session. The group seemed a little lost in their own world and hardly acknowledged the throngs of admiring fans before them when they took the stage. Lead vocalist Andrew VanWyngarden offered a few tired jokes into the microphone between songs, but otherwise kept his focus on the music. Many of the tracks were extended into warped aural explorations; “Siberian Breaks” lapsed into a sprawling pastiche of ‘60s and ‘70s rock. 

Played live, grooves like “The Handshake” and “Pieces of What” had a certain brightness. The keyboard trilled, the reverb flickered, and the drum beat bounced forward in heavy bounds.

When “Time to Pretend” began, everyone stood up to cheer. Hundreds of glowing camera screens dotted the crowd like stars. Bubbles floated up from the front rows, each spurt followed by a plume of smoke rising from elsewhere in the theatre, and a pink light swept across the bobbing heads, illuminating clusters of people dancing.

At one point, a crazed girl ran onstage, blowing kisses and playing an air guitar with excess enthusiasm. It took awhile before security guided her away. Only then did the band slap hands with the fans in the first few rows.

“This is the last song,” VanWyngarden announced before launching into “Kids.”  The band left the stage amidst a swell of cheers—then finally reemerged for a few last tunes, concluding with “Congratulations.” Like their latest album, MGMT’s show was paced according to their artistic whims, the just took an audience along for the ride.

-Taylor Soppe