A clean and dry MGMT at the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards. Drummer Will Berman pictured far right.
If you’ve attended a Hold Steady or Lucero show, then you know something about beer tossing. This writer in particular has been involved in many incidents including the Great Shotgun toss of 2009 where nearly three cases of beer were consumed at the Mohawk in Austin, TX during The Hold Steady’s official SXSW showcase.
Also, let's not forget this summer's Lucero show at Governor’s Island where I was unlawfully jumped after a friend of mine had thrown an empty Tecate into the crowd. The point is that fans of rowdy “bar” bands like these have grown accustomed to their riot like nature of these live shows, but when foreign liquids get tossed around at more precious indie rock shows – gossip soon follows.
Enter Pee-Gate 2010. On Monday Contactmusic.com reported that during a Sunday night gig at the Manchester Apollo in Manchester, England, MGMT drummer Will Berman was the target of a urine attack. Allegedly Berman left the stage before the end of the set after he had been pelted by a, “glass of urine.” The article goes on to claim that Berman did not return nor did the band that opted out of their typically obligatory encore. By Tuesday afternoon, word had spread stateside of the supposed urine bomb where Pitchfork.com picked up the story and ran their own summation of the incident.
To further salt the wounds of Brooklyn’s own MGMT, Pitchfork.com reported that Columbia has put the hammer down on their creative process after allowing the band to explore new territory on their latest effort Congratulations. The article goes on to claim that relations with the label are strained as Columbia will pull the artistic choker when the band goes into record their third full-length.
Well, you know what they say about assumptions – they are the mother of all problems, and this time the press is to blame. In a letter to Pitchfork.com, MGMT co-found Andrew VanWyngarden attempts to set the record straight regarding Pee-Gate explaining that Berman was simply hit with a beer rather than human waste:
At the start of "Kids", MGMT's most popular song to date and the second-to-last song in the set, a celebratory cup of hearty Manchester ale, NOT URINE, was hurled into the air in the direction of the stage, thereupon landing in the lap of William Berman… Berman then left the stage to dry off and the band finished the set without him, a nice non-percussive version of MGMT's current smash single "Congratulations." EVERYONE then returned for a steamy full band encore.
VanWyngarden went on to address the allegations of a feud between the band and their label:
As for the whole label-not-giving-them-artistic-freedom thing, we aren't even close to starting the process of making a new album, label-relations are currently quite friendly, we are very proud of "Congratulations" and the new videos, looking forward to making more music on Columbia.
This letter should close the books on Pee-Gate and any other rumors surrounding indie stars MGMT. Moving forward, concertgoers should heed my advice; when that moment arises where throwing your drink feels like a good idea, tuck it back down, finish it and realize the consequences of your actions – mainly that you’ll have to go wait in line at the bar during the encore.