Despite the inclement weather at the beginning of the afternoon (thunder–check, lightening–check), an enormous line fully wrapped around McCarren Pool by 2:00pm today for the free Pool Party show starring the Ting Tings and Brooklyn-rock darlings, MGMT. It was pretty nuts.
Once inside, it was just as insane–a sea of umbrellas and ugly DELL freebie towels littered the crowd. Around 2:45, the audience burst into uproarious applause as the Ting Tings took the stage. The dynamic duo of Jules De Martino (drums, guitar, vocals) and Katie White (vocals, guitar, bass drum) blew through their set with such enormous energy, enthusiasm, and elegance, they were by far the best thing to take the stage the entire day.
Hit songs “That’s Not My Name” and “Shut Up and Let Me Go” (you know, that iPod commercial song) stirred the crowd into a delicious tizzy, with the later featuring an extended ending that allowed for three double dutch jump ropers to perform tricks as Katie White banged on a bass drum emblazoned with the band’s name.
By the time MGMT hit the stage, the venue was at full capacity, with folks peering behind the gates around the side of the pool, trying to get a glimpse (and a listen) of the happenings inside. The sky had cleared up, and the umbrellas collapsed, and the ponchos were put away.
I’d been quite excited to see MGMT, after falling in love with their two big singles, “Electric Feel” and “Time to Pretend,” but after hearing a little bit about their weird backstory, I knew that this performance had the potential to be amazingly awesome, or amazingly horrible. Well, it was neither–but it was far from amazing. A bit mundane, with little to no surprises.
The sad thing was, that apart from the 4 songs on their album that are particularly good (the two aforementioned tunes plus “The Youth” and “Kids”), the audience (or at least I) seemed less than impressed. There’s something about MGMT and their reoccurring jam band-style musical freakouts that just don’t come off as particularly interesting or aurally stimulating. In those moments, when bikini-clad girls rode on the shoulders of male companions, swaying back and forth, and the swells of overzealous guitar solos took hold that the concert felt like a bad hippie trip meets Lollapalooza. Scary, I know.
In fact, many people cleared out of the Pool even before the encore–and the lengthy callback was met with lukewarm appreciation until the band segued into a karaoke-style version of “Kids”–simply playing a pre-recorded loop as they sung over it. (OK, minus the guitar solo toward the end and semi-front man Andrew VanWyngarden hiding under a tie dyed blanket, tinkling on the keyboards.)
But all that said, the day totally rocked–much in part to the phenomenally upbeat vibe that the Ting Tings set from the start.
Celebs on hand were not out of the ordinary: Sean Lennon, Agyness Deyn, Kirsten Dunst, Alex Kapranos, er… John Norris??