I hope my heart explodes

The Mountain Goats

Ever since my first Mountain Goats concert back in ’05, I can’t imagine going for more than two years without a live John Darnielle performance. Last Friday was my fix. Despite being half incapacitated by a cold, and by a fear of running into a certain boy while dealing with said cold, as soon as I entered the venue I was buzzing.

If you’re not familiar with the Mountain Goats – they’re amazing. John Darnielle’s songs will wrestle with you. I love the specificity of his lyrics, which are full of unexpected turns of phrase and bright hard truths about being human and gloriously messed up. No vague love songs here.  They open with lines like “King Saul fell on his sword, when it all went wrong…” or “On the day that Dennis Brown’s lung collapsed, spring rain was misting down in Kingston.”

Darnielle’s stage presence is a mix of manic energy, graciousness and sarcasm. He gives the best banter I’ve ever had, often meandering through the back story of a song for several minutes before playing the first note. And because a lot of these stories start ‘back when I was a meth addict’, they’re often kind of wild.

A couple of highlights on Friday:
1. No Children – The rollicking anthem to a poisonous, resigned relationship, which always has the crowd perversely off the hook:

“I am drowning
There is no sign of land
You are coming down with me
Hand in unloveable hand”

2. Twin Human Highway Flares [track 20 on that link]- Sung without a backing band, it’s all tender young love & longing leading to a motel room, mixed with a fierce refusal to ever relinquish the memories:

“As we walked across the parking lot toward the motel office
We were walking with a benediction on us
Light was everywhere, the building stood against the sky
Like a monument to desperation 2 floors high

I wish I could transport you all back in time and across the world so you were standing right next to me in front of that stage. As a taster, I found this treasure of a site, which has a great collection of recordings of The Mountain Goats concerts – you can stream or download each entire set (free!).


April 15, 2010. Tags: , , , . music.

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