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Live Review: MGMT

Airing new tunes in Hawaii, the duo seem to have left the headbands behind. Pipeline Café, Honolulu, Thursday, July 16

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Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden don’t need surfboards or trunks to ride a massive wave of fan support for their first-ever gig in Honolulu. Making their sold-out Hawaii debut, they’re miles from the famed beaches on Oahu’s North Shore, so, instead of paddling out at Waimea Bay or Sunset Beach, they take to the stage in front of nearly 1,500 screaming fans packed into the island’s largest nightclub.

And how. For nearly 75 minutes, the predominately teenage audience roils like a massive sea of humanity, swaying back and forth as a wall of hot air rises and blankets the room like salty ocean spray. Crowdsurfer after crowdsurfer finds their way into the arms of waiting security staff, while others establish a raging moshpit before MGMT have even finished their first three songs. Opening with ‘Future Reflections’, Goldwasser and VanWyngarden waste no time with pleasantries, other than a brief hello and a generic, “We’re happy to be in Hawaii,” before careering into ‘Weekend Wars’ and ‘Destrokk’. It’s no flashy comeback: VanWyngarden, sporting a turquoise-and-white-striped T-shirt and jeans with no sign of a Haight-Ashbury hairstyle or bandana, barely looks up from his guitar for the duration of the set. Goldwasser, seated behind his keyboards at the opposite end of the stage, barely pays any attention to the madness unfolding in front of him.

Later on, the first new songs emerge: ‘It’s Working’ tempers raw 13th Floor Elevators-style psych with a haunted-fairground organ, while ‘Song For Dan Treacy’, named after the singer of punk oddities the Television Personalities, disarms their glam-Bowie cool with a whimsical, Syd Barrett-ish feel. Riding the crest of adulation with nonchalant ease, they encore with a rapturously-received ‘Kids’ and another new song, the beatific, reverb-laden, Stones-in-space ballad ‘Congratulations’. And then, without as much as a, “Thanks for the memories” or a wave goodbye, MGMT vanish into the sunset, and the house lights fade to black.

Jason Genegabus

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