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Coachella 2010: MGMT's 'Electric Feel' grinds traffic to a halt; massive dance party ensues

April 18, 2010 | 11:03 am

Mgmt It's a moment that needs to be placed on the historical record, should be captured before it floats away, something to refer back to on the days that lack miracles. Because, make no mistake, what happened when MGMT played "Electric Feel," its 2008 slow-disco grind of a hit, was some sort of minor miracle.

The area in front of the Outdoor Theatre stage last night was shockingly crowded; it felt like the entire population was there to see what MGMT was going to do. Even 150 yards away, each step through the mass of people -- most standing but some sitting, taking up valuable land -- was like walking through an overgrown forest.

MGMT had been playing a lot of stuff from its weird, wonderful new album, "Congratulations," which thus far hasn't produced hits as big as those from the debut. So people were paying attention but were not rapt. Lots of chatter from the masses, a few dancers here and there and an endless stream of cross-traffickers, pushing through the crowd, headed in different directions.

And then: that bass line, a little funky jump of a run, innocent enough, it would seem, six notes repeated a few times.

But though nothing urgent, the melody was a clarion call, as though the Sirens had begun to wail. Everybody stopped what they were doing and cheered. The sitters stood and commenced dancing. The traffic patterns ground to a halt. Everyone spun toward the stage and started dancing. And it was everyone within earshot. The moment felt so natural, yet completely rehearsed: The words rang out, and we all sang along: "All along the Western front/People line up to receive/She got the power in her hands/To shock you like you won't believe."

Those of you who doubt that consensus experiences on a major scale are a thing of the past, that Woodstock-like agreements are gone, that tastes and pleasure pursuits have become so subdivided that we can't agree on anything anymore, we've got two words for you: "Electric Feel." It's been bringing the twinkle to the eye of a generation for two years now. It makes us dance. It is magic.

When the song was over, the world started moving in different directions again. It splintered, and the individual mind took back over. But for four minutes, we were all living somewhere else together, and it was a beautiful place. 

-- Randall Roberts

Photo: Musician Andrew VanWyngarden from the band MGMT performs during day two of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival 2010 held at the Empire Polo Club on April 17, 2010 in Indio, California. Credit: Karl Walter/Getty Images