LOCATION: the Orange Peel AVL.NC
SUBJECT: the Mountain Goats
I was surprised upon realizing I hadn't seen the Mountain Goats live since way back in 2006, in NYC, when they were touring their album, Get Lonely. That gap speaks in part to their success: their shows sell out quickly. Now, they're touring Goths, which like Get Lonely is a little more understated in terms of performance—often using what Darnielle has called his 'middle voice'. It also features him on a Fender Rhodes for a number of songs, instead of his usual guitar. The material also throws in some fun instrumental flourishes like the chorus-drenched bass at the end of Shelved, a tip of the hat to the subject at hand.
While they have climbed far from their humble beginnings, The Mountain Goats unlikely ascent to the upper echelons of indie-rock has been fairly linear in artistic growth. The seeds of their original recordings, when the band was really just John Darnielle yelping misanthropic tales into his shitty boombox, are still nestled at the heart of their music. A band has simply grown up around him. Half way through the set, that band took a break while Darnielle dug deep into his back catalogue, giving a glimpse at the still extant core.
One of my favorite parts of seeing the Mountain Goats, though, amazingly persists decades into their career: they seem so goddamn, genuinely happy to be playing for an audience. No one has ever presented songs with such brazenly brutal subjects with such a giddy grin on their face.
NOTES: the Mountain Goats; opener