MGMT at the Fox Theater, by Carolyn McCoy
MGMT (photo: Carolyn McCoy)

Words by Carolyn McCoy

MGMT are five talented men who create some unique music with roots in electronica, pop, and psychedelic rock. The band started their 2019 tour at Oakland’s incredible Fox Theater with LA indie-rockers Warpaint, who blasted it hard with their powerful opening set. The sold-out show boasted hits and relatively new material from their 2018 album Little Dark Ages, as well as their three prior albums. Not basing a national tour on a immediate new album release only points to the fact that this band has a solid fan base that will show up regardless.

Founding members Andrew VanWyngarden and Benjamin Goldwasser started MGMT in 2002 under the name the Management (the name was changed due to another band using it) and they have grown in leaps and bounds as MGMT ever since. Both VanWyngarden (guitar/bass/keyboards and percussion) and Goldwasser (keyboards/electronic samples/guitar and percussion) are incredible musicians and singers as well as great songwriters. Their music is dense and alive; it pulses and vibrates like a living being. The electronic edge from samples and keyboards is sent into warp speed by thick, syncopated rhythm and harmonies. The current lineup of supporting members, keys player and guitarists James Richardson, bassist Simon O’Connor and drummer Will Berman wrap the songs with a heavy depth and make the music explode into being.

The band started the night with “When you Die” then leading into “Time To Pretend” with the crowd going crazy from the opening notes. “One Thing Left To Try” was performed live for the first time and was loved like a newborn. The big hits of “Electric Feel” and “Me & Michael” were crowd favorites and the acoustic slowness of “When You’re Small” melded into the rambunctiousness of “Kids” With a double encore of “The Youth “and “TSLAMP,” MGMT pulled out the grooves and gave the fans what they wanted.

To quote MGMT, “Turn me on with your electric feel,” and that’s just what they did.