Live Review: MGMT & Franz Ferdinand @ Festival Hall 24.07.18

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MGMT & Franz Ferdinand

A Co-headline show, co-reviewed by Sally Lewis (reviewing MGMT) & India Weaver (reviewing Franz Ferdinand)

Tuesday 24th July @ Festival Hall

Passes provided by Publicists

 

The eclectic, electric, psychedelic, pop punksters MGMT and the dance, art-rockers Franz Ferdinand, took on Melbourne’s Festival Hall on Tuesday 24th July for their much anticipated co-headline tour.

 

Touring Australia for their fourth album Little Dark Age, MGMT took to the stage first to perform an electrifying set inclusive of kaleidoscopic abstract-artistry, synth pop extravagance, and Transylvania goth realness.

SYN spoke with Ben Goldwasser of the band before their time in the country, during our conversation he explained that ‘early 80s pop, post-punk, goth’ influenced the thematics of Little Dark Age. Opening their set with the album’s title track it was clear these influences also reached MGMT’s live show. Accompanied by animations of gothic castle windows, staircases and exteriors, the synth-spook track ascended to sinister strokes when theatrical purple smoke crept over the stage.

Gloomy – but ever so chipper – ‘When You Die’ treated the audience to a friendly refrain of “go f*ck yourself”. Moving away from the entertaining electro-doom of MGMT’s latest sound, it was Time to Pretend like it’s 2007 again, nostalgia flooded the room as expected.

 

For some fun, ‘She Works Out Too Much’ was performed by lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden while pedalling atop an exercise bike. Noticeably it’s the most active we see a member of the live band for the night, however, Goldwasser was excused for playing his essential role behind a well-fortified wall of synths and keys. While there was little movement on stage, on screen was a whirlwind of abstract illusions and visuals. A flaming man with a poop-emoji head, a robot deer running on what looked like (but wasn’t) Mario Kart’s infamous Rainbow Road, hypnotic colours and patterns, lots of eyeballs, anything 80s nostalgia, just to name a few of the sights.

A flaming man with a poop-emoji head, a robot deer running on what looked like (but wasn’t) Mario Kart’s infamous Rainbow Road, hypnotic colours and patterns, lots of eyeballs, anything 80s nostalgia, just to name a few of the sights.

 

As expected, ‘Electric Feel’ went bang! The crowd united; bopping, bouncing and “ooh girl”-ing to their heart’s content. ‘Me and Michael’ continued the high spirits and producing the biggest sing-a-long from their newest release. Side note- this one belongs in a prom scene of any 80s American high school flick. With the iconic opening synth lines of ‘Kids’, MGMT sent waves of pure elation throughout the crowd, bringing the house down with what becomes the ultimate peak of their performance.

 

They closed the set with ‘Congratulations’ – a strange choice having just absolutely indulged Melbourne to what is their favourite snack of the set. VanWyngarden remarked “We wrote this song in Melbourne ten years ago. That’s weird.” before they headed into their last song of the night. Besides, “hellos” and “Melbourne, how ya going?” and that one comment about Melbourne being cold (it’s Winter – duh), we didn’t hear a lot from the band. Not a talkative bunch. Maybe it’s just their new psychedelic post-punk personas?

VanWyngarden remarked “We wrote this song in Melbourne ten years ago. That’s weird.” 

MGMT performed a show of eclectic synth-fuelled sounds past and present, oozing between areas of psych-pop, 80s post-punk and electro-rock. The spread of songs, mostly taken from Little Dark Age, gave opportunity to see how they’ve progressed sonically and thematically from their earlier work, but didn’t forget to treat us to those MGMT classics.

 

Off the back of the release of their latest record, Always Ascending, a sequence of flashing lights and minimalist graphics welcomed Glasgow 5 piece, Franz Ferdinand, to the stage.

Immediately, nostalgia was set into overdrive as the clocks were turned back to 2004 for ‘The Dark of The Matinee’ from their debut, self-titled record, Franz Ferdinand. The band stood together in a line at the front of the stage to join in synchronised line dancing…because how else do you start a live set?

The throwback continued as the opening riff of ‘No You Girls’ tore through the sound system. Hips throughout the crowd began to sway side to side. Nostalgia was soon replaced with new by the title track for the band’s latest release, Always Ascending. The junction of old to new highlighted to punters that their signature class and edge has always remained throughout their 14+ years of music making.

 

As the set continued, Franz Ferdinand was sure to remind the crowd of how lucky they were during ‘Do You Want To’. The 1600 odd members of the audience joined together to come to a self-realisation of how ‘lucky’ they were by chanting “you’re lucky lucky, you’re so lucky” hypnotically. Another realisation came in the form of dance. Frontman Alex Kapranos’ dance moves were other worldly. His split jumps were almost too refined and his ability to endure periods of high intensity bopping only lead us to the conclusion that he studied under the watchful eye of Richard Simmons- Aerobic god.

Frontman Alex Kapranos’ dance moves were other worldly.

Kapranos and his fellow band members continued to bop their way through their most recent records, going back and forth between tracks from both Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions (2013) and Always Ascending (2018).

 

The band took a moment to interact with the sweaty punters, giving shoutouts to a few favourite Aussie bands, including Amyl & The Sniffers, of which Bassist Bob Hardy also expressed his love for in an interview with SYN earlier in the month. But as the band continued to talk, anticipation built as the audience came to realise 2 things…

1) that the gig was nearing the end and

2) that the two m̶o̶s̶t̶ ̶i̶c̶o̶n̶i̶c̶ ̶F̶r̶a̶n̶z̶ ̶F̶e̶r̶d̶i̶n̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶S̶o̶n̶g̶s̶ most iconic songs of 2004 were yet to be played.

And with that, the pulsating guitar riff of ‘Take Me Out’ bounced off the walls of Festival Hall. All those intense years of practice on Guitar Hero and Singstar lead to this moment. Air guitars filled the stadium and a continued chorus echoed from the song’s start to finish.

 

A brief departure from the stage was not at all mistaken for the end of the set, after all, the audience was not oblivious to the fact that one flaming hot song, in particular, was yet to be heard. Fists rose into the sky as the fire of ‘This Fire’ began to burn. Not a head in the crowd was still as everyone joined together to scream (not sing) along.

Throats on fire, an exhausted crowd departed the nostalgic time machine that Festival Hall had become.

 

Franz Ferdinand and MGMT, an otherwise unlikely pair, came together to create 3 hours of impassioned nostalgia. Memories of high school crushes and video game addictions were almost too present. But with mature ears, the audience soaked up the past and sung along into the future.

Oh, and 2007 called… It wants it’s headliners back.

 

Want more? Listen to our chats with the bands below!

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