While “Kids” and “Time To Pretend” have been your go-to summer anthems since high school, and you’re known to get freaky every time “Electric Feel” comes on, are you completely prepared for MGMT to headline this year’s Movin’ On festival? If so, you’re lying. If not, then you’re with the rest of the normal world, who are still trying to wrap their heads around the music presented by this enigmatic duo.
In all seriousness, MGMT coming to Penn State is a pretty momentous event. They were propelled into fame with their 2007 debut, Oracular Spectacular, and have since become one of the most fascinating new acts in music. One part synthpop, one part space-rock, and two parts psychedelic, MGMT formed in 2002 by Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, as an electronic act called The Management while the two attended Wesleyan University. Their 2005 EP Time To Pretend contained early versions of “Kids” and “Time To Pretend” as well as other electronic-only tracks, garnering the band just enough attention to get signed to a major label. Shortly after, they took on a rock format, added some more band members to their lineup, and recorded the hugely successful Oracular Spectacular.
It’s at this point where MGMT fans start to get a little divided. Of Oracular Spectacular‘s ten tracks, three of them are catchy, radio-friendly pop songs, while the rest of the record drifts toward spacey, psychedelic pieces that break the confines of contemporary indie rock. Despite confusion from some listeners who may have been lured in by “Kids,” MGMT still received widespread acclaim for their debut effort. Songs like “Weekend Wars” and “The Youth” were mildly popular and fit well with the themes of the album, and Oracular was eventually named Best Album of 2008 by NME and 18th best of the decade by Rolling Stone.
The band’s sophomore LP Congratulations was a bold departure from any preconceived expectations of MGMT, abandoning the pop formats in exchange for an even trippier and erratic sound. They experimented with styles from all different corners of rock, while still remaining genuine and heartfelt in their execution. Containing some of the most wildly-structured and yet mesmerizing songs I’ve ever heard, the magic of Congratulations really starts sinking in after multiple listens. MGMT’s take on psychedelic rock has been compared to The Beatles, David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin, but these connections really only exist in flashes throughout Congratulations. Songs like “Flash Delirium,” “Brian Eno,” and “Siberian Breaks” are convoluted, winding voyages filled with ambitious textures and nonsensical lyrics; making Congratulations quite an uncannily enjoyable release.
But that’s the beauty of MGMT; listening to their music is kind of like running through a carnival funhouse. You never know what’s around the corner, or what will come next, especially as we await their mysterious third release sometime this summer. So what to expect for the Movin’ On festival? MGMT’s adventurous and energetic presence will definitely put on a phenomenal performance. We’ll hear all of the jams that made them famous, but also a lot of deeper cuts as well, so start getting familiar with those now (if you haven’t)! One thing is for sure: MGMT never takes anything too seriously, so we’re all in for a fun time. Their set is at 9:30 PM THIS FRIDAY!
Check out some of their songs below, but first, watch this short clip in order to better understand MGMT: