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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Each Morning New, Each Day Shot Through: The Mountain Goats at The Wilbur Theatre, 11/29/09

I showed up about twenty or thirty minutes into the opener Final Fantasy's (Owen Pallett's) set. From what I did see, it was a truly virtuosic, impressive performance by essentially a one-man-band. That said it was not really my jam, but I would still rate him over previous tMG openers I've seen such as The Moaners, Kaki King, or Larkin Grimm. The crowd was pretty supportive of his efforts, even if half of them were occasionally checking the time, desperately anticipating the emergence of John Darnielle and company.

[Owen Pallett: truly one of the good Canadian musicians. On the John K. Samson side of the line and not the Justin Bieber one, AMIRITE? Trust me, I'm right. Don't even try to convince me otherwise.]

So, the opening set wrapped up to polite applause and I got up from my fairly decent Mezzanine seat to have a conference with my dear friends from whom I had been so tragically separated by the truly draconian seating practices of the establishment. Taking advantage of the chaos of intermission, we stole away to the floor, working our way quickly past security and getting within a few rows of the stage, awfully close to where the ever-sharply dressed Peter Hughes would soon be damaging ears with the raw power of his thunderingly godlike bass guitar (with an assist from the poor acoustics of the venue). Though we hit a brief snag, Dana (remember Dana?) was able to convince the soft-looking, pliable, and thoroughly nice fellow who asked to see our floor wristbands that it was of the utmost importance that we three should be allowed to remain together. Our close proximity at Mountain Goats shows was a time-honored tradition that simply could not be denied, she said in so many words. Understanding the paramount importance of our continued union on the floor, he acquiesced, throwing his hands up in resignation and shooing us away. Safely on the floor, we eagerly awaited the moment that was sure to come. And then it happened.

The Goats took the stage and there was much rejoicing. Right from the get-go, there was a heavy emphasis placed on material from the new album, and given that they're touring in its support, that's hardly surprising. To echo the sentiments of another reviewer, this meant that things dragged a bit for a while as quiet new song after quiet new song was played. It was certainly different to see John at the piano, however, and it was all the more rewarding later in the set when he dug back into the archives to play some old favorites and some obscurities. I love me some "Quito," so that song's always a highlight. I got about as into it as some tired dude with a shaved head and a winter jacket draped over one arm can get, and John seemed to notice, so that was nice. If a show's going well the band gives off palpable energy and the crowd gives it right back. Everyone's psyched and in that moment nothing can be wrong. You had best believe that the room got to that point and stayed there for some time.

"Going to Bristol" with Owen Pallett plucking away on the violin was pretty darn awesome. I will admit my previous ignorance of "From TG&Y" but I'll be damned if that didn't immediately resonate with me (and before those of you in the know about this song ask, no, I don't go around huffing spray paint--shame on you for even considering that). John gave one hell of a monologue before "Song For Dennis Brown," which injected some candor into the evening that had been somewhat lacking to that point. "This Year" was fantastic as always, and that was when my throat gave out. The encore's inclusion of "No Children" was a fitting and crowd-pleasing closer if ever there was one.

The absence of a second encore was for once something I couldn't get upset about, considering that we had a train back to Worcester to catch and needed to hightail it out of there by 10:30. All in all, it was a great show as I have come to expect. Any bones I had to pick are trivial and bringing them up again is just going to make me sound whiny.

Here's the thrown-together-at-the-last-minute setlist, painstakingly culled from The Mountain Goats forums because I couldn't find it on yet:

1 Samuel 15:23
Old College Try
Psalms 40:2
Isaiah 45:23
Deuteronomy 2:10
Enoch 18:14
Genesis 30:3
From TG&Y (solo)
Blueberry Frost (solo)
Mole (solo)
Dance Music (solo)
(Owen comes out)
Going to Bristol
(everyone else comes back)
Hebrews 11:14
(Owen leaves)
Song For Dennis Brown
Genesis 3:23
This Year

Ezekiel 7 and the Permanent Efficacy of Grace
Romans 10:9
No Children (w/ Owen on piano)

I'm hopeful that someone present that evening taped the show, and I greatly look forward to hearing it so I can reminisce for years to come, a practice that I have been so lucky to follow with the two preceding Mountain Goats shows I have attended. Thanks in advance to whoever you may be.

All Hail The Mountain Goats, a band named after a creature with suicidal pride.

Someone shot some spectacular video of a couple songs at the show, here's the inimitable "This Year":


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