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MGMT + The Whitest Boy Alive REVIEWED

It’s working.

The prayers of Singapore’s indie fans, that is. On Thursday night, the mighty heroes of indie, MGMT and The Whitest Boy Alive, gathered and performed a one-off double bill at Suntec’s Convention Hall. ActuallyMAG got down to business and witnessed the spectacle firsthand.

Let us start off by doing a little stalking on the bands themselves. MGMT, who were the headliners of the event, had never stepped onto the sunny shores of Singa-land. We were lucky to be part of their Asia tour, before it ends at Seoul on April Fools’ Day.

The Whitest Boy Alive too, were on their Asia tour. However, they were no strangers to Singapore; having previously performed for Juice’s 10th Anniversary at Zouk. Furthermore, frontman Erlend Øye, is one half of Scandinavian band, Kings of Convenience, who last serenaded crowds at 2010’s Mosaic Festival.

The night opened with local band, Muon, dishing out experimental alternative sounds for the crowd. The set felt a little lacklustre. The front man spoke with a meek-ish demeanor, and the performance felt like it was not given the best effort. The crowd’s response to the band was lukewarm at best.

After about 30 minutes of waiting, The Whitest Boy Alive came on. And boy did they get the crowd riled up. Erlend Øye stepped forth and showed us how a geeky bespectacled dude can appear as the coolest guy alive. They got the crowd dancing on their feet with their funky tunes, playing popular hits such as Courage and Intentions off their latest album. They also played new unreleased songs such as Bad Conscience and Upside Down. Erlend Øye exhibited impeccable crowd participation as he encouraged everyone to sing along, seducing even my friend who has never heard of them.

Also, it was funny how a teenage girl next to me kept constantly proclaiming how much Erlend Øye really looks like Napoleon Dynamite. And strangely enough though, I agree.

And finally after what seemed to be a million years, MGMT took to the stage and relentlessly opened with their single, It’s Working. Many fan favourites such as Time To Pretend and Kids were played and promptly sent the crowd into a crazed frenzy.

However, we felt that the performance had room for plenty of improvements. For one, the setlist felt like it could use better planning. There were one too many moments where the crowd would go into a complete standstill simply because the excitement curve was missing. When they performed Siberian Breaks, it was obvious that the crowd was not responsive at all.

We also felt that MGMT’s set was a little marred by the sound mix. On one too many occasions, the jangling guitars would soar to a piercing level that was simply unpleasant. Andrew VanWyngarden could also have taken a leaf out of Erlend’s books and engaged in more crowd participation.

All in all, we felt that the night’s true shining performance was given by The Whitest Boy Alive. They stole the show with their showmanship and had a generally better setlist. Could also be because of Erlend’s glasses, or him looking like Napoleon Dynamite.

And finally, the concert was life threateningly refreshing. Not because the bands were so good it changed my entire perception on live acts; but it was the fact that I have never been to a concert where the ground wobbled and felt like it could give way. Especially when songs like Time To Pretend and Kids came on, it felt so scary and surreal to the point where I stopped prancing around in fear of my life.

Naïve, as I have been told; but caution is the operative term here.

– Text by Toke, images by Zhiwei

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