MGMT Massey Hall, Toronto ON, March 19
Published Mar 20, 2018With the unparalleled capacity to touch on all of our senses at once, a proper live show can transport the audience members to a moment carefully crafted by the artist — ideally, one where the mind-numbing concerns of the world simply don't exist. Based on Monday night's performance at Massey Hall, MGMT have got their own moment down to a science. An ear-pleasing, acid-tripping and (somehow) leotard-donning '80s-workout-mom moment.
As the crowd trickled in during the opening act, Matthew Dear, alone with his approximately ten million cups of coffee, glitched-out on stage in a performance that would have been better suited to a compact basement venue. His ability to boogie his way through the entire set without once opening his eyes was, admittedly, impressive.
After 16 years as a duo, it's pretty evident that Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser are solid as they come. Appearing on stage with an array of houseplants (?) and a guitarist clad in knight's armour (??), MGMT kicked off with the title track of this year's Little Dark Age. Progressing into "When You Die," the band now stood before a massive — and presumably haunted — mansion projected on stage, taking us on a psychedelic trip that would have left Dorothy screaming. For those who'd seen the video for this single, it was a treat to experience these uncanny visuals live.
MGMT made sure there were no shortage of engaging visuals and exciting Easter eggs throughout. "Time to Pretend" encouraged the crowd to run alongside a virtual stag in what seemed like the band's own version of Mario Kart's Rainbow Road. Whether or not these guys have ever dabbled in Double Dash or not is besides the point — between the occasional shared smirk, or VanWyngarden flying what could only be identified as a misshapen Chihuahua plushie in Goldwasser's face during their Kids/The Neverending Story medley, it's obvious the two know how to have a rip-roarin' good time.
The group went on to deliver accurate renditions of crowd favourites throughout the night, deviating from this year's release and 2007's Oracular Spectacular only twice to squeeze in two tracks from the middle of their discography sandwich, "Congratulations" and "Alien Days."
Obviously keen on maximizing their time on stage, VanWyngarden had a stationary bike rolled out for "She Works Out Too Much," in order to get in a quickie of his own. Sure not to lose our attention, he did still serenaded us and played the synth lead, all while pedalling with surprising vigour.
VanWyngarden pulled out some finger tricks for the flamenco-infused "TSLAMP," during which a spinning image of a phone was projected behind the band. MGMT might be the masters of crafting the drug-free hallucinatory experience, all while (somehow majestically) calling us out on the often overlooked tragedy/comedy our daily human bullshit. For us 9-to-5ers, it's an oddball musical dose of something we didn't even know we wanted or needed.