One might expect an MGMT show to be a continual dance. And not just because the band's three 2008 smash singles, "Kids," "Time To Pretend" and "Electric Feel," have been synth-pop party-starters for the twentysomething set since their release.
But MGMT has two worlds it needs to combine - the upbeat, high-energy frivolity of "Oracular Spectacular," its 2008 commercial debut, and the jam-heavy psychedelica of its 2010 follow-up, "Congratulations."
So it's not unreasonable to assume that a concert would be a dance between old and new, in an attempt to reconcile fans of the power trifecta of "Kids," "Time To Pretend" and "Electric Feel" with fans of the new material.
This was the case Saturday at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa Event Center. But the MGMT inter-album dance was a smoother one than expected.
The band opened with "Electric Feel." Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden, the Brooklyn duo at MGMT's core, launched into the hit as soon as they took the sparsely-decorated stage.
Goldwasser and VanWyngarden have been known to reject theatrics during their performances. Saturday proved no exception. A simple backdrop flashing colorful, projector-beamed images was the only set piece.
After "Electric Feel" came "Flash Delirium," the first single off "Congratulations." Though the less-danceable second song did not meet the uproar of the opener, it still received a warm reception.
Two songs from MGMT's debut followed, "The Youth" and "4th Dimensional Transition." The tempo slowed down, but the audience followed the band on its foray into jam territory.
Goldwasser and VanWyngarden continued to explore their limits with "It's Working," the third single from "Congratulations," and "Of Moons, Birds & Monsters" from "Oracular Spectacular." Lights flashed. People danced and clapped, appearing to give the go-ahead to continue down the road to a jam session.
When MGMT did go down that road, during the protracted guitar roar of "Siberian Breaks," its 12-minute second single from "Congratulations," it became clear why the band has cited '60s and '70s surf and art rock bands such as the Beach Boys as influences.
It also lost some people. "Siberian Breaks" became a time to take a break, to check cell phones, chat and refill.
MGMT wove in several more songs from both albums before bringing the melody to a halt.
"Who here is old enough to gamble?" VanWyngarden said. "This next song is dedicated to you, in Atlantic City."
The crowd recognized "Time To Pretend" from the first heavy synth notes. If people had been lulled into a daze, they snapped out of it for the single.
MGMT finished with several songs from "Congratulations," and a few more from the down-tempo bottom half of "Oracular Spectacular."
"I just wanna dance!" said one young man, beer in hand, during "The Handshake."
He did attempt to dance, to debatable result.
After playing "Congratulations," MGMT left the stage. Cheers and screams brought the band back for the encore. It hadn't yet rounded out the trio of singles with Grammy-nominated "Kids."
But it did, upon its return to the stage. MGMT held nothing back on "Kids," and the result was a shimmering dance-pop anthem fleshed out in all its glory.
The dancer got his wish. The entire crowd was in motion. VanWyngarden and Goldwasser came together, singing from stage right and dancing.
It would have been a suitable end to the night, but the pair pressed on, ending with two songs from "Congratulations" - "I Found A Whistle" and "Brian Eno."
Though MGMT received more of a reaction on its earlier hits, the band proved it could adeptly skirt the line between its first and second albums. Though VanWyngarden and Goldwasser may have willingly relinquished the title of Kings of the Dancefloor after "Congratulations," the show proved their band still knows how to dance.
Contact Emily Brill at email@example.com