After lining up for a few hours, several hundred MGMT fans got to see the New York psych-quintet up close and personal Tuesday night in the historic Ed Sullivan Theatre. The band had taped a performance on the ‘Late Show With David Letterman’ earlier, but instead of calling it a night, they played a nine-song set as a part of the “Live on Letterman” concert series, a coast-to-coast simulcast on select CBS radio stations and streamed on the web.
As expected, the performance tapped material from the group’s recently released sophomore set ‘Congratulations,’ a nine song, swirly psychedelic set that has reportedly alienated fans and critics at the same time. But all parties in attendance couldn’t care less — while old MGMT staples such as ‘Electric Feel’ and ‘Time to Pretend’ surely delighted, they took time out on ‘Brian Eno’ to explore some disoriented prog riffs. They also introduced the new title track, ‘Congratulations,’ as a Billy Joel cover and recovered from a potentially massive bongo mishap on ‘It’s Working,’ a song Andrew VanWyngarden told the audience is “about drugs.”
The crowd remained seated until that rousing, anthemic ‘Time to Pretend’ started up. Everyone slowly rose to their feet, a moment that made VanWyngarden smile and thank everyone for doing so in the end. Earlier in the evening, he mentioned in passing that this could possibly be the only seated show they’d ever done — and it surely could be the last.
The “Live on Letterman” performance served as an unofficial kickoff to what’s poised to be a busy summer for MGMT. On May 28, they start a headlining tour in San Luis Obispo, Calif., with festival appearances at Sasquatch and Lollapalooza on the agenda. They’ll close out the US portion of the ‘Congratulations’ tour on Aug. 17 and 18, with two special hometown shows at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.
Until they pop up near you, watch the “Live on Letterman” performance below.