Indie rock royalty, MGMT, performed a lively set at Portland’s Crystal Ballroom on May 16. The elegant venue was packed with energetic fans, bouncing and moving to MGMT’s eccentric setlist.
Crystal Ballroom was a fitting venue for MGMT’s unique style. The venue is decked out with huge murals and pristine chandeliers–reminiscent of the setting for MGMT’s “Flash Delirium” video. Incidentally, “Flash Delirium” was the first song the band played.
Kuroma, a pop rock band from Memphis, opened for MGMT, but did little to inspire much excitement among the crowd. Kuroma’s lead singer, Hank Sullivant, sounded like he had swallowed a balloon full of helium backstage. As far as the instrumental work, most of Kuroma’s guitar riffs had one foot in lead and one foot in rhythm, which created an interesting dynamic. Also, many of MGMT band members had to fill in for Kuroma, taking on responsibilities of bass, drums, and keyboards. This conveyed the impression that Kuroma is struggling to nail down steady band members. Kuroma had some catchy hooks, but failed to amp up the crowd’s excitement.
After Kuroma wrapped up their set, “Lady Dada’s Nightmare” from the MGMT’s third album came on over the loudspeakers. A cryptic preamble then scrolled up the screen behind the band equipment, a la the opening scene of Star Wars. The members of MGMT then took the stage and launched into “Flash Delirium,” much to the elation of the crowd. The second was a new song from MGMT, suggesting a new album is around the corner.
Along with fan favorites like “Electric Feel,” “Time to Pretend” and “The Youth,” MGMT played some lesser-known tracks like “I Found a Whistle,” and “Siberian Breaks.” I was surprised to hear the band perform the spacey, sprawling “Siberian Breaks,” a 12-minute musical journey filled with several ambient breakdowns. Before MGMT’s encore, the crowd chanted, “Kids, Kids, Kids,” begging the band to play the song that put them on the map. Andrew VanWyngarden, singer of MGMT, responded, “It’s MGMT, not Kids.” The band never played “Kids,” suggesting the band has grown tired of the song.
MGMT’s performance did not disappoint, however. It would have been nice to see them play “Kids,” but its omission did not detract from the band’s stellar setlist. Great energy, tight performances (especially since many of the band members had just finished performing with the opening band) and a varied setlist made MGMT’s night in Portland a night to remember.