MGMT: Uptown Theater, Kansas City, MO 6/15/10

It’s been two years since MGMT breezed through Kansas City’s Uptown Theater in support of Beck on his Modern Guilt tour. The crowd at the sold-out venue that night was greeted by the fledgling, Brooklyn-based band, and many were introduced for the first time to the band’s synth sound heard on their full-length debut, Oracular Spectacular.  The intervening two years have seen MGMT’s stature, and style, grow considerably, and their headlining stop on June 13 at one of Kansas City’s finer venues showed them deliver on their high expectations.

While a sold-out crowd at the Uptown certainly feels smaller than it used to, the five-piece led by Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Van Wyngarden had no problem revving up the packed house once they hit the stage.  The efforts of the Uptown management to make it clear that no one else could enter the theater (statements of "No other tickets will be released" greeted the unlucky ticketless), gave ample evidence that those in attendance were eager to see the new sound the band rolled out on this year’s Congratulations.

Opening up with “Someone’s Missing” gave those unfamiliar with their swerve toward ‘60s-psychedelia a taste of what was to come.  The kaleidoscopic, swirling images on the screen behind the quintet matched perfectly with the echoey vocals and sitar heard from the stage.  As the band segued into Oracular’s “Electric Feel”, the crowd was dancing and the cell-phone cameras were out in full force.

By the time the band approached the final third of the set after showcasing several strong efforts from the Congratulations, MGMT rattled off sure-fire familiarity from their debut in the form of “Time to Pretend” and “The Youth”.  The former got the audience going with its piercing synth line, while the latter had the crowd singing along and swaying to the lilting rhythm.  The end of the pre-encore setlist saw Goldwasser and Van Wyngarden rattle off “The Handshake”, “I Found a Whistle” and the tribute to legendary musician/producer/wearer of many hats “Brian Eno”.

Those in attendance wouldn’t let MGMT get out of the building just yet.   The energy of the night reached extreme levels when the band launched into “Kids” as their penultimate selection of the evening.  Pulling the entire band off of their instruments for the driving, (synthetic) drumbeat of the opening sequence, all five members worked the crowd into a frenzy.  After the high of that hit song, MGMT dove into the titular track “Congratulations”, which intentionally or not, that title could serve as a laudatory pat on the back to the band that last saw the walls of this theater in their pre-headliner/chart-topper day. So now instead of “crawling on their knees towards it,” MGMT has got it all.

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