“We just really like to play music,” MGMT singer/guitarist Andrew Vanwyngarden said Sunday night at New York City’s Mercury Lounge, where his five-piece band unveiled their second album, Congratulations, with a secret gig. He wasn’t kidding — and it showed.
Rocketing through 12 songs in 60 minutes, the former SPIN cover boyswere in top form, opening with the jangly, multi-movement Anglo rocker “Song for Dan Treacy,” Congratulations‘ ode to the frontman of Brit post-punk band Television Personalities.
Clearly enjoying themselves — dancing, smiling, and interacting with each other — the band (also featuring core member Ben Goldwasser) then ripped through a set heavy on Congratulations stand-outs: the jittery psych epic “Flash Delirium”; their Zombies-esque ecstasy jam “It’s Working”; and “Brian Eno,” a nod to the U2/Coldplay/Talking Heads producer, which the band preceded with a joke.
“We’d like Brian Eno up onstage,” Vanwyngarden said, spurring darting glances from the 250-person crowd, followed by a long, awkward pause. Psyche!
The band then ripped into the bubblegum-goth jam, featuring Addams Family-like organ, driving drums, and Vanwyngarden’s spooky snarl: “If the sky was synthesized, you’d probably know! / We’re always one step behind him, he’s Brian Eno!”
For a band set to headline upcoming summer fests, the intimate show — announced online to coincide with MGMT’s scavenger hunt — was a special treat for fans, who danced and sang along with the new tracks, despite the fact that the album won’t be out until April 13.
The mood was celebratory and fresh — Vanwyngarden and Co. were clearly excited about the new tracks. “This is the first time we’ve played this song live,” the frontman explained before “Siberian Breaks,” a moody, 12-minute epic that dives right down the rabbit hole. Playing to the crowd, Vanwyngarden enjoyed all 730 seconds of the song.
The band sprinkled their set with a few oldies — “Time to Pretend,” “Electric Feel” — but it was all about the newbies, the pinnacle of which was “Congratulations,” a tender acoustic ballad with steel drum-sounding keyboard riffs and moving lyrics: “I’m dead in the water… I’d rather dissolve than have you ignore me.”
It’s a seismic shift from the pop-tastic dance jams that won them fame, but one that’s a convincing step forward.
1. “Song for Dan Treacy”
2. “Weekend Wars”
3. “It’s Working”
4. “Flash Delirium”
5. “Time to Pretend”
6. “I Found a Whistle”
7. “Siberian Breaks”
8. “Electric Feel”
9. “Pieces of What”
10. “Brian Eno”
11. “The Youth”