If you’re familiar with John Darnielle’s music, then you are used to songs focused on incredible pain and loneliness. His upwards of 15 records and compilations over the last decade and a half are filled with such morbid themes as an abusive stepfather or waking up alone after a relationship’s harsh end.
Yet The Mountain Goat’s show last night was anything but depressing. As the opener, “Wild Sage” began, a mood of joy and excitement was immediately created. The usual reserved melancholy was not present. Instead an energetic John Darnielle sang before the crowd, smiling and swaying so much that it was almost disturbing.
Gorgeous ornamentation accompanied The Mountain Goat’s acoustic/vocal style throughout the set. A lively rendition of “New Monster Avenue,” included stunning flourishes on the drums as Darnielle shouted “all the neighbors come on out to their front porches, waving torches.”
Darnielle was full of life throughout the set. His enthusiasm was contagious as he pointed, waved, and even slapped himself in the face during the tragic “Maybe Sprout Wings.”
“That was the most I’ve enjoyed singing a song this tour,” he declared after busting out a tune from one of his old 7 inch’s.
As the band played through the spirited “This Year,” the crowd shouted energetically along “I am gonna make it!”
For the encore the Goats played two more songs from 2005’s The Sunset Tree, during which Darnielle bent down to touch/hug several adoring fans.
The Mountain Goat’s emotional brand of low-fi indie was transformed brilliantly into a live atmosphere. Their songs can break your heart and speak to you on a strangely personal level, making for a show that was entertaining as well as moving.