California's golden boys give the 80's a big, funky snog. The Troubadour, Los Angeles (July 2)
Let’s get the girls onstage,” says the topless’n’tanned one, tugging his trousers some inches south of Pube Junction, “this is ‘The Pyjama Song’.” As all the mini-skirted LA honeys slink up onstage to frug for the cameras like a mass audition for Flashdance, we may ask ourselves, how did we get here? OK, how’s this? Maybe, as the ’80s dawn, MGMT, right, ship out to the West Coast and ditch the prog widdlings in favour of the burgeoning new styles of disco, funk and Beastie Boys white boy rap. Andrew Verywonkysurname ties his hippy hair into a surfer dude ponytail and heads down Muscle Beach to pump himself buff nuff while Crispin Rockerfeller-Quaalude dons the baggy basketball shirt of the stoner sidekick and nerds himself to the max, duuuude. They change their name to Iglu & Hartly and find a second surge of fame writing the soundtracks to their own Californian feelgood buddy movies, directed by John Hughes.
At least, that’s one way we could have ended up in this West Hollywood dive bar watching an assortment of Venice Beach bum life play knowingly modern electro-funk kitsch behind two flamboyant frontmen. Just as MGMT skilfully spoof early-’70s San Francisco, I&H do the same for ’80s surf funk LA; they’re a tongue-in-cheek homage, the Red Hot Silly Peppers. And yet despite the seductive funk pop of ‘The Pyjama Song’, there’s never any hint that I&H are in the comedy pastiche business. They’re no Californian Goldie Lookin’ Chain; as each Killers/Bravery synth sweeps in I&H attack it like the gnarliest wave, spitting raps as if they’ve just stepped out of ‘Paul’s Boutique’ and filling the air with testosterone so thick the barmen could add slices of it to the rims of the cocktail glasses.
Anyway, how could you sneer at something this damn fun? Especially when the ecstatically Starship-like ‘In This City’ – their ‘Time To Pretend’ – kicks in, the vests come off, the crowd is a sea of ceiling-flung arms. And when they play it again to be recorded for the video, the place goes even more mental as every wannabe in Hollywood stagedives at the cameramen in the hope of being the next Courteney Cox in the ‘Dancing In The Dark’ vid. Andrew W-Gay? Hmppf, you come over here and call them that…