New York City has always been one of the best cities in the world to discover new bands. This year alone, Brooklyn is manifesting a new crop of buzz bands including the psychedelia/classic rock influences of duo MGMT (not pronounced "management" as previously thought) and tripsters Yeasayer. The popularity of these bands forced an earlier show to be added to accommodate the overwhelming response. How do the kids even know about these bands? Does everyone in Chicago really read Pitchfork? Both bands put on quite a show proving headbands and wife beaters are cool again.
MGMT is comprised of college buddies Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser and their three-piece backing band. VanWyngarden sings and plays guitar as Goldwasser sings and plays the keys. Last year's debut record, Oracular Spectacular, covers genres from indie to funk in the span of 14 songs. They began to gain notoriety after opening for Of Montreal last fall. MGMT headlined the earlier set but opened for the later show. The first song they play is the jangly "Of Birds, Moons and Monsters." Most of the time, they sing with their eyes closed. At the end of the song, they break into an instrumental jam session. The crowd is divided into sorority/frat types and hipsters, the former who probably showed up because of the classic rock vibe. VanWyngarden remarks this crowd is older than the earlier crowd. "Future Reflections" has heavy keyboard and rocks elements. They let it play out for a while. The acoustic and ballad-driven "Pieces of What" comes next drenched with classic rock reverb. For the first few songs, the audience is sedate doing a lot of head nodding until MGMT perform their first truly recognizable song, "Time to Pretend." The kids go nuts as dancing and cheering finally ensues. People sing along. This goes back to how the hell do so many people know about them? They're singing every word! MGMT follow up the so-so rendition of "Time to Pretend" with the better, Prince-esque inspired "Electric Feel" containing heavy funk basslines. More dancing from drunk sorority girls occurs. The drummer appears to be doing the most work here, pounding those kicks and sweating to no end. He's loving every minute, though. The guys play one more song and act like they're about to walk offstage. What, no "Kids?" It's the best track off their record! Right before the confused crowd is about to leave, VanWyngarden asks the audience (one of the only time he speaks to the crowd) "What are you guys doing?" Luckily, they burst into "Kids" and all hell breaks loose. The guys drop their instruments and come upfront to sing. The guitarist starts playing the drums and the drummer starts to play the guitar and ukulele. A dance party commences on stage with the band members jumping around as a drum machine loop plays. People once again sing the words and dance, at least those that have stuck around. It's the most satiating and fun moment of the set. All is right with the world.
After a quick breakdown and setup, quartet Yeasayer take the stage supporting last year's debut, All Hour Cymbals. They are more loquacious than their tour mates and also offer a hallucinating induced swirling colorful background. They're music is derived in Transcendentalism aspects with potent world and tribal influences, yet it's difficult to completely define their sound. One band member comes out wearing a flannel shirt and another wears a wife beater and has his long hair in a ponytail. Suddenly, these articles of clothing seem fashionable again. They open with "Worms," a mediative song containing castanets and a trio of vocals setting the atmospheric mood. They mention this crowd is drunker than the last crowd and perform songs involving a lot of clapping and yelping. "Wait for Summer" hits on gospel territory and amplifies live. In fact, live Yeasayer sounds incredibly immediate and electric, even better than their record. The band discuss politics a little with the crowd mentioning Obama and joking about Ron Paul, then they transcend into "2080" (one of the best tracks from their record), filling the room with emotion and energy. They play another gospel-tinged song, "Red Cave," and someone in the audience refers to the band as Crosby, Stills and Nash. "No Need to Worry" is next, harboring laconic, drawn out vocals. "Sunrise," another affable track, projects intensity and excels on the vocal delivery. For the entire set, the band is appreciative constantly thanking their fans. After their last song "Wintertime" ends, the stage darkens. Will there be an encore? Or is this another MGMT type rouse? The crowd begins to chant and yell but the lights remain off. Finally one of the members comes out and simply says: "Sorry, but we don't know anymore songs. Really." This is possibly the first time those words have been spoken. Needless to say, the songs they did play were enough and surely they'll take their new found ubiquity and write some more tunes.
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