Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

The Mountain Goats – the greatest music trade in craigslist history

Posted by xneverwherex on June 3, 2015

The Mountain Goats
Blank Range
The Fillmore
June 1, 2015

True story. If it wasnt for nameless and countless friends, Id probably still be wondering who this band was. Lets rephrase that. Years ago in NYC, a guy I was dating at one time but turned into an amazing friend, invited me to a Mountain Goats show. I have no clue why I didnt go, and the only reason I know this is because I was searching for Mountain Goats and found an email exchange. The more interesting thing was, he wasnt the first guy to invite me to the band. For whatever reason, I always associated them in a category I deemed ‘guy-rock’. Moral of the story – never underestimate the power of guys youve dated who end up becoming good friends. They probably have better taste in music than you.

Even truer story – Id be lying if I said I didnt know who John Darnielle was. Of course I knew who he was, who didnt. I lived in NY – we lived, talked, breathed music for years. Did I also ever mention how I was in love with Superchunk – one of the most awesome 90s ‘real’ indie bands operating a real indie label (Merge Records – home of one John Darnielle). So there I was in NYC at The Music Hall of Williamsburg seeing Superchunk yet again for another countless time and the band starts playing ‘Digging For Something’ and this guy in glasses is pogoing around the stage singing along and having a great time. Mac ends the song with ‘John Darnielle everyone’ and of course, crowd goes f’ing crazy!

John Darnielle - The Mountain GoatsBut I digress, here I am years later – a lot older – definitely less wiser – and again out with a guy I previously used to date – who is a good friend with way better taste in music than myself. And at this point — an even dearer friend in Asheville — is posting lyrics from The Mountain Goats and turns out has ‘Heretic Pride‘ tattooed on his arm. I knew this had to be a sign. Two very important people in my life were having these emotional experiences with the band. At this point, I was pretty sad that The Fillmore show had sold out, but turned out there’d be a second show at Great American Music Hall. So I wasted no time and bought tickets – and later lucked out to swap them for The Fillmore. Probably the greatest music trade in craigslist history.

I had started listening to their music religiously and was transfixed by the lyrics. The outpouring of his heart was something I could relate to all so well. I had cried one too many times listening to ‘Waving At You‘ that when he played it, it was impossible to not grab my friend. I could have turned into a ball of tears at that moment, but there was something so ridiculously beautiful and cathartic about hearing it performed live.

The band came out to the ever catchy ‘Blood Capsules‘ and in an instant the crowd was alive. Everyone seemed to be so into it — lots of dancing and moving around, lots of singing along, some hands in the air. It was a perfect crowd for a perfect show.

John was at his finest. He was oh so talkative with plenty of stories about pro wrestling and they were perfect introductions for the songs off of ‘Beat The Champ‘. At moments I felt I had gone back to the 70s and was about to watch a wrestling match on tv — there was always the villain and the good-guy. But as John said – in real life – there is no possible way to be the villain. I mean sure you can, but you cannot just hate people and feel no sympathy, lest you be labeled a sociopath. Such a perfect introduction for ‘Foreign Object‘ about a good guy going bad and a bad guy going good and eventually being stabbed in the eye with a foreign object. Honestly, I wasnt sure much could eclipse stories like that.

But then there was John Vanderslice and talk about Tiny Telephone Recording Studios in SF and of course SF’s own John Vanderslice was there to play on ‘Heel Turn 2‘. It was one of the most beautiful songs from the show last night. And John Vanderslice has got to be one of the coolest cats ever. It was too bad that they didnt do one of the songs that they recorded together, but who cares, this song was perfect.

And how can any show at The Fillmore not get some sorta mention of the Grateful Dead. And John did not disappoint. He talked about hating on the Dead while he was still into the black eyeliner goth scene (ala Bowie) – and sure everyone loves to hate on the Dead. But musically they are geniuses, perhaps not lyrical wise. So of course, a cover had to be played. It was pretty awesome as it was just John and his guitar (part of the 3 song solo part – which did include ‘Waving At You’) playing ‘Friend of the Devil‘ – which is actually quite a great song. He also played ‘Straight Six‘ for the first time ever and managed to do quite a bit of tuning before playing and joked about doing that to prolong playing the song.

The Mountain GoatsAmong stories galore, one of the best shows ever was played. John is an incredible frontman. He was so impressed with the crowd and amazed at how quiet we were during the slow songs (you could have heard a pin drop) and also how energetic it was at points. It was almost too perfect to have it all in one, that at moments I wanted to pinch myself to make sure it was real. Plus, his other band members are insanely awesome – Jon Wurster, drummer of Superchunk and tMG – bassist Peter Hughes, who is simply f’ing awesome and has some pretty sweet bass lines – and mostly the multi-talented Matt Douglas, who plays nearly every instrument but was pretty sweet on the sax and clarinet! (why oh why arent there more clarinets in bands!)

And naturally, he ended the show by talking about encores (which most people know I really detest). The silliness of them – and how if you come out – typically you perform 2 songs, and then maybe leave again and come back to do another 2 – and its this huge deal or the other way – you come out for an encore and just play and play another long set. So as he said he’d be playing a long set for the encore and we’d all appreciate it. And there is nothing ever wrong with that especially when you get to hear ‘This Year‘ which might be my mantra for the year. And it was quite an encore and I could have been happy with that. But the crowd never stopped and got louder and louder and surprise – he did a second encore. The second encore included the Gladiator songs performed back-to-back which is a rarity and was pretty amazing! And it was a perfect way to close out the night.

I have loved Beat The Champ from the moment I heard it. All of the songs are so beautiful and I love the stories about the wrestlers and hearing them performed live was perfect. Of course, throw in older songs, never before played songs, a cover, and John Vanderslice a second time (he played during the 2nd encore) and you get a perfect show. As a friend emailed me today, “I’m glad you are now a member of the church”.

“i am gonna make it through this year, if it kills me.” – john darnielle

Set List:
Blood Capsules
Cry for Judas
Animal Mask
Foreign Object
Get Lonely
Heel Turn 2 (with John Vanderslice)

John Solo
Straight Six (first time played live)
Waving at You
Friend of the Devil (Grateful Dead cover)

Full band
Fire Editorial
Luna
Stabbed to Death Outside San Juan
The Young Thousands
Love Love Love
Never Quite Free
Up the Wolves

Encore 1
Southwestern Territory
The Legend of Chavo Guerrero
The Diaz Brothers
Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod
This Year

Encore 2
Amy AKA Spent Gladiator 1
Spent Gladiator 2
No Children

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