Anyone living in Houston that has a vested interest in catching some of the best live acts in music probably aren’t strangers to the White Oak Music Hall show calendar. Since the venue’s opening, Pegstar Concerts has hustled to make it the destination for live performances by top bands of every genre, and thanks to their big pretty outdoor lawn area, this includes acts that are large enough to headline festivals. Of course, living in Houston also means being familiar with capricious weather patterns and their knack for getting fun things cancelled.
As it happens, this unfortunately turned out to be the case for fans of MGMT, who were scheduled to play the Lawn stage at WOMH this past Tuesday, with support by Warpaint in one of the most anticipated shows of the year. The cancellation came last minute due to a relentless bout of rain that started as noon passed into the evening. And yeah… it was as big of a bummer as it sounds. If there’s one good thing that came from it, however, it was the gesture made by MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser that reminded some us that every cloud has a silver lining, even rainy ones.
When it came time to open doors, venue staff opted to round everyone up inside to wait out the rain, sending out updates via social media. But after pushing the show back as much as possible and the rain doubling down into a lighting storm, a staff member ended up taking to the room’s stage to announce that the event was officially cancelled and refunds would be issued. He also mentioned that if anyone wanted to stick around, the venue was putting together a short DJ set/dance party inside, which was met with jeers and boos from some of the more sour concertgoers in protest to the idea that a random dance party was any sort of consolation. Others wasted no time in turning on their heels to crowd the exits.
Those who did stay, though, found that it can pay to hold out hope. After a few minutes, Andrew, Ben, and the other members of MGMT’s live band made their way to the stage with wine in hand and began to fumble around an impromptu DJ booth. All of a sudden, the mood among the remaining crowd began to change from disappointment to excitement as it started to become clear who would be hosting this last second dance party. The duo took a moment to extend their apologies that the show had to be cancelled before queuing up a mix of songs consisting of random, all-time greats and a few of MGMT’s own beloved singles, much to the delight and surprise of the leftover fans.
Without any time to set up a proper lighting rig, the stage was illuminated only by the sole glow of some ambient lighting reflecting off the back wall, making it tough for those trying to record the action to catch much more than silhouettes and audio. Nonetheless, the room was soon full of the same energy you would see at any MGMT show as band members and fans alike sang, drank, danced, and cheered their way through the improvised DJ set. Andrew, Ben, and touring lead guitarist James Richardson took care of most of the singing and crowd work, but everyone in the band manned the booth and poured up booze. Original songs that made an appearance included “Me and Michael,” “Electric Feel,” “Kids,” “Grutu,” and “Little Dark Age.” Other classics, such as “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys, “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails, and “Big Papa” by The Notorious B.I.G., turned up as well, each receiving pops of jubilation from the crowd. It was karaoke night at White Oak Music Hall, MGMT Edition.
The whole affair was short and sweet, capping off at around half an hour before the band decided “Riders On the Storm” by The Doors would be fitting exit music and they said their goodbyes. While perhaps this didn’t completely make up for losing out on the chance to see a full-on live performance, it definitely was a kind and stand-up gesture by MGMT, who totally could’ve just shrugged it off and moved on to the next one. Instead, they did what they could to ensure that at least some lucky folks got to be part of a rare and intimate experience that can forever be recalled in fond memory. And if you had to miss out completely, that’s okay — they’ll be back.