MGMT loves karaoke, or, "How to ruin your catchiest song"

They also like kittens, apparently.

We’ve seen the Brooklyn-based band Yeasayer live at Great Scott before (see our previous, gushing post), so we thought we knew what to expect at Tuesday night’s gig at the same venue, with MGMT. WXPN’s World Café recently described Yeasayer as purveyors of “haunted robotic gospel” music, and that seems totally on target. There’s a combination of factors that makes their live performances seem vaguely spiritual: all four members sing, sometimes silencing their instruments completely in favor of a four part harmony; they also all throw their entire bodies into their performances. They kneel and bang tambourines on the ground; they have a mangled crash cymbal, nearly falling to pieces because they like to smash it with a maraca mid-song; they sweat and scream and shout and moan lyrics which, even from eight or so feet away, we still can’t tell what they’re saying, but we feel like we should be raising our agnostic hands and yelling "Amen!" Here’s an audio example: some live tracks from their recent Daytrotter session.

The Yeasayer boys have been touring across the U.S., so they’ve spent the past few months polishing their live act, whereas MGMT, who seem right behind Vampire Weekend as the indie music community’s latest cause celebré (as evidenced by the shivering fans in front of Great Scott, begging for extra tickets, and lots and lots of blog coverage), are still rough around the edges. We went into it thinking at least we’d see "Time to Pretend," and "Kids," two obnoxiously addictive tracks from their debut, Oracular Spectacular (Columbia), and we got a semi-decent live version of the former. The latter, "Kids," which we’re told is an MGMT classic from their days playing to packed dorm rooms at Wesleyan, was the last song they, um, "played." We say that with hesitance because it was actually just two MGMT members singing along with the album version, which was played over the loudspeakers. Half the crowd was dancing (possibly fueled by Tuesday night PBRs - especially the falling over/making out couple in front of us, awesome), seemingly unfazed, and the other half was scratching their heads, thinking "WTF?" We may not know everything about being in a band, but we’ve been too a solid number of shows in our time, and that’s not a concert. That’s just karaoke.
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