The Mountain Goats
November 13, 2017 @ House of Blues
By: Andrew Szendrey
“Do you want to go see The Mountain Goats with me?” “Who’s that?” …Every time.
The concert starts at 7pm, 7:15 rolls around, and I still don’t have anyone to go with. I walk into the study room and see Arielle: “Do you want to go see The Mountain Goats concert with me? I’m leaving in 20 minutes.”
For the first time: “Sure! Who’s that?” A folkie, indie, musically intricate, satiric, but also tragically real, group of old dudes—should be a great concert.
A 20-minute walk to the House of Blues, a confusing will call experience, X’s on all 4 hands, and we were in. The music was pounding and uncomfortable, as the opening singer moaned into the microphone set to the simple beat of a drum kit and in complete discord with the electric guitar. It was painful, I’ll admit, but we had loge access and (more importantly) spinning chairs, so all was alright.
The stage is transformed, and 30 minutes later John Darnielle comes out. Wearing no shoes. Indie, satiric, and old dude are checked off immediately.
A great start to the concert.
The rest of the band comes out to the stage, and one thing is obvious: they’re happy to be playing music tonight. Especially John Darnielle. He sings every word with passion, as he moves between the acoustic guitar and the piano. A truly impressive and creative musician.
Matt Douglas hits the crowd with sounds unheard since “Sexy Sax Man” went viral. His additions to each song, be it on the saxophone, flute, clarinet, or keyboard, were met with outrageous applause from the crowd.
John Darnielle’s ability to pick and choose from the nearly 300 songs that The Mountain Goats have written is impressive to say the least. But his clever introductions bring a fun external element to an otherwise purely musical and minimally visually enticing show. He leads into ‘Beautiful Gas Mask’: “I tried to write a song that everyone could relate to.” The song ‘Paid In Cocaine’ was prefaced with a long and complex story about a time the band actually did get paid in cocaine while playing in Sweden.
And breathe humbly.”
– ‘Beautiful Gas Mask’
My favorite interjection, however, came prior to the song ‘Shelved’ which is on the newest Mountain Goats album, Goths. John Darnielle explained that the song is about how hard it was to turn away from a label when the label tried to change their sound. The Mountain Goats chose to maintain their “indie” status, and I am so glad they did, because ‘Shelved’ is easily at par with the best music I’ve ever heard live. In fact, ‘Shelved’ has my vote for best indie song of the year.
“You can’t pay me to make that kind of music
Not gonna swallow that pill.”
These fun interjections provided an excellent introduction to the last two songs of the set, which were far and away the most satirical of the show. Arielle was especially surprised by the number of people in the crowd who wanted to stab someone in the eye with a ‘Foreign Object.’ But by the end of the song she was singing “BOP-BA-DA-DA-DA FOREIGN OOOBJECT” just as loud as everyone else in the crowd. And when the time came for the last song of the set, she was ready to sing out rage she didn’t even know she had.
“So I shot him in the face!”
– ‘Against Pollution’
Fortunately, John Darnielle and The Mountain Goats had 4 more songs prepared for their encore. The penultimate, and also their most popular, song, ‘This Year’ had the entire House of Blues dancing just as joyously as the barefoot Darnielle had been all night. And after hearing it live, it has traveled up many spots on my list of all-time favorites. The Mountain Goats and I are here to remind you: you’ve made it through 89.5% of the year, and there are only 38 days left to go. You’ve got this.
“I am gonna make it through this year, if it kills me
I am gonna make it through this year, if it kills me.”
– ‘This Year’