MGMT at Somerset House: 80s synthpop modern and relevant
After the commercial failure of their two previous albums, MGMT stated that they didn’t know how to continue. They found the answer, though, with Little Dark Age, their first album in five years. The duo are far from their early hit Kids, and their crowds have grown too. From men who just escaped their nine-to-five to hipsters who do whatever hipsters do, Somerset House is packed.
Little Dark Age chronicles the distanced relationship between the band members during their separation and, just like with the emails they exchanged to communicate, they convey this to the audience as they open with the eponymous track. MGMT successfully manage to channel 80s synth-pop while keeping it modern and relevant; that is the theme of their album and songs like When You Die. The 80s vibe extends to the stage, a true jungle rave, with a massive disco ball, plants and an inflatable God-knows-what behind them that resembles a clown skeleton. Visuals like caves and eyes – and whatever would result if you searched trippy – appear on a screen.
Debut single Time to Pretend reminds every one of its success, as the crowd know all the words, and even manage to sing the instruments. An exercise bike is casually brought out, and they launch into She Works Out Too Much.
“Now for something completely different,” they say, and they weren’t kidding. The set is slowed down with an acoustic guitar for When You’re Small and Siberian Breaks. Somerset House begins to fall asleep, barely even swaying anymore. However, they are soon resurrected by powerful red lights and Electric Feel. The fans ooh-and-ah along, truly shocked into action. Fully awakened, they chant loudly to Me and Michael.
The set’s final track, Kids, is explosive, equipped with digital fireworks. It isn’t the actual finale, though it should have been, as everybody in the square has officially used all of their energy. Still, they ask for one last song, and they get an encore of two: TSLAMP with a rubber duck and The Youth.
MGMT are natural performers. Not many acts can say they rode an exercise bike and went on to serenade a rubber water bird on stage; yet it isn’t random, all of it tells a story, and it is a story that many should read.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information and future events visit MGMT’s website here.
Watch the video for Little Dark Age here: