Review: Franz Ferdinand & MGMT at Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, 25 July 2018

Hordern Pavilion played host to one of the most unusual double bills to hit Australia this year – the driving rock of Franz Ferdinand and the psych-synth of MGMT merged into one night.

Both incredible bands in their own right, they were each able to play a great mix of their respective repertoires and prove they’re much more than their mid-2000s singles, despite a split crowd.

Franz kicked off the night, with a tight mix of garage rock and cheeky humour. Lead singer Alex Kapranos brought all the classic moves, stomping around the stage to their signature strut-rock and getting the crowd involved at every turn.

Despite the band throwing everything at it, it took quite a while for the crowd to get moving. The crowd’s reception hinted at what became a pervasive feeling throughout the gig; there were two very different sets of fans at this show, and it seemed as if each act were battling to win over the other half.

Despite this, Franz managed to level up the intensity over their set and eventually win over everyone with some extremely tight and fun tracks. Of particular note was ‘Michael’ which had everyone jumping around to its fast pace dance punk beat, and their closing track ‘This Fire’, where they managed to get the entire crowd to sit down on the floor before an explosive crescendo.

Franz’s full length set saw a big chunk of the crowd leave at half time, which was unfortunate because MGMT’s brand of techno euphoria was definitely worth sticking around for.

‘Time to pretend’ was a standout, perfectly levelled and filling the entire space, with the new crowd at the front sitting on each others shoulders and waving in time.

It’s hard with a set so tech-and-pedal-heavy for the band to be able to move around and bring high energy to their performance, but this seemed pretty lacking in comparison to Franz Ferdinand. The only song that lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden stepped out from his small platform for was ‘Kids’, right towards the end of the set.

While the music was great, the stage presence just wasn’t there. After such a high energy first set, the night seemed to mellow out instead of ramp up, which could have been avoided with a simple switch in the lineup order, which apparently swaps night to night on this tour.

A big plus for MGMT was their stage design, with some really interesting lights, trees, inflatables and video work really doing its best to keep your interest on the stage, despite the performers being stuck in one spot. It seemed like a well thought out use of media to compliment their trippy soundscapes.

By the time the smash hit ‘Electric feel’ finished, despite the show not being over, a small crowd decided it was time to leave and get their parking validated; a sign that two full-length sets on a Wednesday might have had a few people up past bedtime.

Two very different bands. Two sets of fans. Two full length sets. What was billed as double the awesomeness bit off more than it could chew and, unfortunately, only packed half the punch.

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