Words by Janelle Tai
Photos by Josh Groom
MGMT and Franz Ferdinand are revered as classics of the 2000’s era of mainstream indie, an insurmountable force who were at the forefront of a sudden wave of new alternative music. About a decade later, it still continues to ripple through not only a generation who are eager to relive the hits that are the soundtrack of their youth, but also loyal fans who have grown to love their favourite band’s quirks and evolving sound.
Franz Ferdinand warmed up the Hordern with the title track from their fifth and latest album, ‘Always Ascending’ but really kicked off with ‘The Dark of The Matinée’ when the crowd reciprocated to frontman Alex Kapranos’s sultry intro, and bopped along to the catchy chorus.
However, catchy choruses were short lived in Franz’s repertoire. ‘Do You Want To’ and ‘No You Girls’ were pretty decent and had some nifty guitar riffs, but their choruses were rather uninspiring. ‘Paper Cages’ was especially tiresome and almost unbearable to listen after the third rotation of their chorus. It didn’t help when the tempo slowed towards the end, making the song fall flat.
I have to give props to the odd creation but actually entertaining hook “I’m a lazy/ I’m lazy boy” from you guessed it ‘Lazy Boy’ for mimicking the first-world conundrum of laziness – something all too relatable to the chanting crowd.
An old favourite ‘Michael’ had the crowd bouncing, which was matched by the infamous Kaparanos scissor kicks but what really shook the Hordern was banger ‘Take Me Out’ that played right after. Ending the set on the song everyone went mental for would have made an epic exit, but they took it one further with ‘This Fire’ which was great until they dragged on the chorus by asking us to get low… for far too long, Kapranos! Thankfully, the song eventually finished with one last powerful chorus and escalated for an exciting, loud exit.
When MGMT finally took the stage to the already buzzing crowd, the night shifted to a whole different vibe when they opened with ‘Alien Days’, a warped, psychedelic synth experience from their self-titled third LP. There really isn’t enough words to describe the bizarre song but it is enough to understand that MGMT isn’t boxed into any particular sound or genre.
The Hordern erupted with delight at the early appearance of ‘Time to Pretend’, an indie pop anthem that everyone chimed their “decision to live fast and die young” and “now let’s have some fun”.
By far the most paradoxical song that has a chipper, wistful tune but matched with horrifyingly dark lyrics goes to ‘When You Die’ from their newly released fourth album. “Don’t call me nice
“I’m gonna eat your heart out” and other dark thoughts were disturbingly sung with passion by the crowd along with frontmen Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser.
The crowd continued to sing and groove along to numbers ‘James’, ‘Weekend Wars’ and ‘Me and Michael’ from Dark Little Horrors, proving that fans have stayed loyal to MGMT and were not just there for the trinity of songs they were purely associated with their former indie pop label. The immersive, live setting allowed the duo to showcase how they have traded some of their messy, wooly psychedelic stuff of their past for a cleaner blend of psych and pop that only their artistry can achieve.
The Hordern was relentless when MGMT closed with the iconic ‘Kids’, belting out the words and jumping to the infectious melody that the duo effortlessly crafted. We refused to let them go just yet until they came back with ‘TSLAMP’ and ‘The Youth’ as an encore treat that ended the night just right.
It really doesn’t matter if MGMT or Franz Ferdinand doesn’t sound like who they were 10 years ago, fans can and will still hear the hits that struck them gold before, but should stick around and find out what these bands uncover in their uncharted exploration of their sound.
mgmt @ SITG 2018