By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jul 04, 2013 at 4:39 AM

The large crowd gathered at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse Wednesday night for MGMT told you everything you needed to know about the concert. Tepid applause between numbers. Plenty of small talk and chatting during songs. An audience member to my left couldn’t even be bothered to look in the stage’s direction for most of the show.

I tried to explain and rationalize it. I thought maybe it was the crowd’s fault, expecting more of the band’s catchy synthpop hits and less of their new psychedelic rock direction. Then I figured the festival venue didn’t fit MGMT’s low-key set list.

The answer I tried to deny, however, was the one that fit the best: It was simply a limp show, with the band lifelessly plowing through its mellow set list and getting outshone by its trippy ’90s screensaver-influenced video backdrops.

The duo of Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser hit it big in 2007 with their debut full-length album "Oracular Spectacular," even getting named to Rolling Stone’s best of the decade list. With their second album "Congratulations," the guys broke away from their old selves with a self-reflective, single-free and challenging prog-rock sound. Some loved it. Others hated it. One thing was clear, though: MGMT did what they wanted, mainstream fans and fame be damned.

It seems this mentality stretches into the duo’s live shows. After a "Star Wars"-esque video text crawl introduced the band, MGMT broke into a long uninterrupted chunk of moody psychedelic rock songs.

"Weekend Wars" and the pleasantly drowsy "The Youth" – which recently had a significant spot in the indie coming-of-age film "The Kings of Summer" – were enjoyable highlights amongst the fairly undistinguished pack of tunes ("I Found A Whistle," "Introspection").

After "Alien Days," the first single off their upcoming self-titled album, MGMT finally got some buzz from the crowd with the chirpy synth mock anthem to rock star behavior, "Time to Pretend." The excitement dissipated fast, however, and wouldn’t come back until the band reached another hit, the funky "Electric Feel," a few songs later. Even that wasn’t without its problems, as it sounded like they started in the wrong key and had to begin again.

Much to my surprise and the crowd’s disappointment, their third big hit, "Kids," went unheard from. It seemed to be a surefire concert closer or encore selection, but it was more of the moody same, ending with "The Handshake" and "Congratulations."

It would be unfair of me to say that the music was bad. The mix was pretty solid (VanWyngarden’s vocals were a little lost, perhaps partially because the singer’s performance didn’t seem all that enthusiastic), and the dreamy rock often had me swaying to the beat. When the song-filled 80-minute set was finally over, however, I was left wanting more and not in a good way.

It was an energy-free set delivered by energy-free performers. The audience had no choice but to return the favor.  

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.