Last week the world celebrated the 10th year of MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular. (Almost) straight out of Wes graduation, Andrew VanWyngarden ’05 and Ben Goldwasser ’05 hooked us Kids—you know The Youth—up with Pieces of What we needed for a real, nice Electric Feel.
Since releasing his vibey single“Fake Words” last week, Henry Hall ’14, of Grand Cousin fame, has been on the move navigating the New York music scene and post-grad life. I chatted with Hall to discuss his solo career, the Wesleyan music scene, and his day job as a CIA agent. Check it out after the jump.
The first image that came up when I googled “hispter party.” C/o The Peanuts Gang
Benjamin Winterhalter ’07 really wants you to know that he’s cool—but not, like, Pitchfork-Modest-Mouse-hipster-on-a-bicycle cool. No, he was cool before cool even knew it was cool. That, I assume, was the point of his Salon article “What I learned at the hipster sex party,” which asks important questions in its subtitle, like, “The place was so hip even the guy from MGMT was there. But were we liberated and free? I guess so.”
He explains up-front what he’s about to share with us: “What follows is my best reconstruction of the events of a party that took place in 2003 on the campus of Wesleyan University, one of the most hipster colleges in America.” Actually, not according to the Huffington Post, or Her Campus, or College Magazine. We’re still getting over the rejections. “It’s a good illustration of certain facets of hipster culture.” Fascinating. “It involves a minor brush with fame.”
I don’t feel like recounting what he says in this story. Read it, or don’t. It’s fun to note, though, that the author was a Philosophy and French double major, did crew, and wrote his honors thesis on The Edge of the World: Facts, Solipsism, and Self-Knowledge in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus.
Zonker Harris Day is a music festival-art smorgasbord-spring time-event for all. On Saturday, April 19th, 9 bands will play in the WestCo Courtyard from 11:30 AM to ~7 PM. Specially-selected foodstuffs and art supplies will be at your disposal, and Whey station will be serving a signature Zonker sandwich in the Courtyard! WestCo will be your sandbox.
The first single off of the hard-to-understand third LP of a band with a hard-to-pronounce name was released today— in the form of a cassette tape. We get it, guys, the ’90s were a cool time, but stop trying to make the cassingle happen. It’s not going to happen.
MGMT, that completely obscure duo by Andrew VanWyngarden ’05 and Ben Goldwasser ’05, wanted to celebrate 4/20Zonker Harris Day Record Store Day by putting out a limited edition casette single (and also online, for those who sold their tape deck a long time ago) for “Alien Days,” which would hopefully revitalize the struggling independent record stores/the record industry as a whole. Still not as weird as that time that fellow psychedelic weirdos The Flaming Lips put out a single inside an edible gummy skull. At least they have something to aspire to.
According to VanWyngarden in an interview with Rolling Stone, “Alien Days” is “about that feeling when a parasitic alien is in your head, controlling things.” According to music blog Consequence of Sound, the tune is the band’s “latest love letter to David Bowie.” According to some anonymous sources on Foss Hill, it’s like, pretty cool, man, but I dunno if I really get it, you know?
“We’re not trying to make music that everyone understands the first time they hear it.”
This just in from Rolling Stone: Andrew VanWyngarden ’05 and Ben Goldwasser ’05, known collectively as MeGa-MeTa or Andrew Wynwasser and The Manage Mints, announced plans to release their eponymous third album in June. VanWyngarden and Goldwasser have reportedly spent the last year holed up in a cabin, tinkering with synthesizers and drum machines and guitars, and free-form jamming long into the night.
The duo’s last effort, the emphatically anti-pop Congratulations (2010), surprised many fans who were expecting a groovy, easily accessible sequel to 2007’s Oracular Spectacular. This time around, consider yourselves warned: MGMT will be “even weirder,” as VanWyngarden and Goldwasser weave patchworks of house-influenced, rhythmically complex, electro-cosmic tracks such as “Mystery Disease” and “Alien Days.” “The recording process was really strange,” confirmed co-producer Dave Fridmann (though Justin Vernon did do a similar thing Forever Ago, albeit acoustically and roughly 815 miles away).
Q: What’s more Wesleyan than a Commencement Eve Tent Party featuring cameos by Das Racist’s Himanshu “Heems” Suri ’07, playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, and a wedding-style funk cover of “Kids”? A: Probably nothing. We’re late on posting this, but hey, it’s summer, we straight-chillin’.
We don’t have video of Heems dropping a brief verse before flailing around the back of the stage, but we do have a clip of a funkified “Kids,” as performed by Kinky Spigot and the Welders (Lillian Ruiz ’08, Nicole Tirado Strayer ’07, Amanda Facelle ’09, Marlon Bishop ’07, Vlad Gutkovich ’07, Yoni Rabino ’07, Jon Hutchinson ’07, and Tess Amodeo-Vickery ’07). Scroll through the gallery below for a key shot of Heems bonding with Wesleying’s own viral starKill-F Feinstein ’13.
In semi-related news, Miranda ’02 gave a talk to the Wesleyan Alumni Association. Watch it here.
Edit: An anonymous commenter writes in, “You forgot about the Party on Fountain girl, who I’m pretty sure stagedived during this song.” Yes! I didn’t spot her, but both A-Batte (via text message) and Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 (via Twitter) mentioned sightings of Molly ’06, the star of “Party on Fountain.” Can someone do a retrospective WesCeleb interview?
Remember that time Wesleyan became the “epicenter of surrealist Brooklyn pop”? The Village Voice cast an approving eye on Wesleyan’s music scene in August 2009—the dawn of my freshman year—back when MGMT was a fresh success story and Das Racist, Boy Crisis, and Bear Hands were all up-and-coming reference points. That article bears mention for a number of reason: it replaced the Hollywood “Wesleyan Mafia” with a slightly more bearded Brooklyn contingent; it brought VanWyngarden and friends to the mainstream of Wesleyan’s admissions information sessions and applicant pool (remember this?); and it contained this extraordinary sentence:
Thus did the young scholar soon find himself at a nearby co-ed fraternity called the Eclectic Society, rocking indeed with one Will Berman, now the drummer for Wesleyan-bred, quasi-hippie, semi-famous electro-rockers MGMT.
This time it’s USA Today’s College page; headlined “Student and alumni musicians bring ‘Wesleyan Wave’ to the national scene,” the article comes complete with a “Wesleyan Playlist” of Soundcloud embeds that runs the gamut from Das Racist and and Santigold to C¥BERGIGA and Lioness. Anyone smell hype? I smell hype.
What I like about this article—at least compared with the 2009 Voice piece—is that it extends its scope well beyond a few high-profile alumni. So yeah, it begins by pointing out that “MGMT, Das Racist, Santigold, Amazing Baby, Bear Hands and Fort Lean all boast [Wesleyan] diplomas” (no dice, AmandaPalmer’98, who both performed this fall and has written music about Wesleyan), but soon refocuses on current student activity, which includes both concert-booking (a smorgasbord of examples from the lastthreesemesters) and student bands (Peace Museum, Lioness, and Awesomefest all get shout-outs).
America’s premier Dumbass Duo is back, just in time for a double dose of 1994 all up in your Halloweekend. Season 8, Episode 1 premiered last night—the first new episode since 1997—and brought with it a little bit of Wellesleyan. Check above for a probingly insightful critique of MGMT’s “Kids,” directed by Ray Tintori ’06, with music (as always) by pals Ben Goldwasser ’05 and Andrew VanWyngarden ’05.
This just in from P4k Media Corps: The MGMTs, apparently desiring a change of pace from Bowery Ballroom and MHall Williamsburg, will be performing two unique “musical experience” performances at the Guggenheim Museum on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The shows, which are scheduled for November 10 and 11, are in honor of the Guggenheim’s Maurizio Cattelan retrospective—the Italian artist’s work “will encircle the band as they perform, exhibited throughout the spiral-shaped building.”
“We’re creating a musical experience that works for the building, and for the construction and presentation of the Cattelan exhibition,” explain Andrew and Ben via press release. “The art exhibition is done in a completely original way, so it deserves music which is completely original.”
The video above is a sort of interview slash promo for the Guggenheim performances. In explaining the inspiration between the museum appearances, Andrew VanWyngarden reminisces on a Wesleyan memory from freshman year, ten years ago this fall, when he lived in WestCo: