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Monday, Nov 3, 2008
Words and Pictures by Thomas Hauner

It wasn’t Halloween night, but in New York a minimum of three days before and after October 31st is all that’s necessary for costume-induced revelry. And enough fans dressed ambiguously enough that the line between costume and outfit was thin. When MGMT, the duo consisting of keyboardist Ben Goldwasser and guitarist Andrew VanWyngarden, and their supporting band took the stage in matching Three Amigos attire, the crowd roared in delight.


And that was the general trend all night. The crowd clamored in delight every time Goldwasser approached his mic (he didn’t get more animated than that), lead guitarist James Richardson ripped into another fret-shredding solo, and whenever the group’s meandering jams coalesced into danceable beats.


The group seemed at ease on stage despite the surrounding underage regalement and general hysteria. They cruised through the majority of Oracular Spectacular, including their certifiable hits “Electric Feel” and “Time to Pretend”. But they lingered on “The Handshake” and a couple of other tracks, jamming extensively under Richardson’s commanding solos.


Singing has never been VanWyngarden’s strong suit—the album clearly works some auto-tune magic—but it was rough-hewn enough that it suited their ‘60s inspired indie sound well. “Weekend Wars”, however, simply sounds constipated and it did so equally live.



Winding down their set with “Kids”, they set down their instruments singing along to Goldwasser’s mostly solo electronic engineering. But they weren’t quite done and VanWyngarden pressed Richardson to follow his lead with playing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” What followed was a train-wreck of a cover, with VanWyngarden screeching out the vocals in an even loftier falsetto than usual and the bass player struggling to follow Richardson’s chords.


Though MGMT’s innovative psychedelic indie pop sound and songs of fated delusions made for a solid debut album, their only live embellishment was an exhilarating third-party guitarist. (And also their costumes.)



Tagged as: mgmt
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Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

While their live show alone could easily carry them into the future, if Monotonix can find a way to translate the reckless energy onto record, these crazy folk from Tel Aviv are going to be huge. It was a smart lineup decision to put these guys on last, as trash buckets flew, drums were annihilated, and beer was spilled over the entire audience. The best thing about Monotonix, though, is they aren’t gimmicky; the instrumentation—just drums, guitar, and vocals—is so ungodly powerful that it would be fantastic even if they were just standing stoically. More bands need to take note that you’ve got to incorporate the best of both worlds to make it in today’s oversaturated musical market. Monotonix not only heed this advice, they go above and beyond it.



Tagged as: cmj, monotonix
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Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

High Places put out one of the best debut records of 2008, but unfortunately, their live show isn’t going to push them out into the crowd of developed bands quite yet. Although it’s hard for a duo to be able to put on a captivating live show with so much going on musically, they need to add elements to their live show to hold the audience’s interest. To be fair, they are still new on the scene and they have plenty of time to grow. The songs are great but the show is lacking, a common case these days it seems


Tagged as: cmj, high places
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Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

There’s something to be said for a band that can hold it down as a three-piece, and Thrill Jockey’s Pontiak can do just that. One the heaviest, more intelligent bands I saw over the course of CMJ, Pontiak proved they are more than just a “heavy” band. Their tracks are minimal, yet composed with great accuracy, and were able to hold the audience’s attention with a trance-like quality until the guitar exploded into freak-out territory: A true psychedelic, stoner metal experience without all the assorted clichés.


Tagged as: cmj, pontiak
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Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

Royal Bangs must be sitting on top of the world right now. They just supported The Black Keys on the Akron duo’s biggest tour to date and released an album on the band’s label earlier this year. Their CMJ performance wasn’t dead on, but it didn’t need to be. Their chops were great, their energy was great, and the audience from front to back was paying attention, and that’s more than you can ask out of any CMJ experience, especially at midnight on the very last evening (we were all just about dead by then). Their name is out there, now they just have to get their sound out there—and frankly, they are doing a damn good job at that.


Tagged as: cmj, royal bangs
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