"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


last night in live music: the mountain goats

"Snakes in the grass beneath out feet, rain in the clouds above,
some moments last forever, but some flare out with love love love."
-John Darnielle, "Love Love Love"

Last night's Mountain Goats show at The Parish was hipster central. This turned out to be a good thing; the audience was mostly reverent and quiet, which is important given how many of John Darnielle's songs are melancholy, slow, and sometimes hard-to-hear.

If you're not familiar with the Mountain Goats, they are, basically, John Darnielle and the guys who back him up. Darnielle's songwriting is, increasingly, intensely personal. The writing has gotten more and more powerful with each new album, and I have become increasingly intrigued by the band over the last year or so. Last night was my first time to see them in person.

Musically, they did not disappoint. Darnielle and the other guys played a good variety of songs, reaching back as far as All Hail West Texas, with a good representation of their latest album, Get Lonely. The crowd was very into it and sang along with lots of numbers, which made for a fun show.

Also, it turns out that John Darnielle is a little bit crazy. The Attorney suggests that perhaps "delightfully eccentric" is a better description, and I agree. Darnielle seems to feel every note he plays deep in his bones, and he frequently laughs (or something laugh-esque) at the cleverness of a line or the near-perfection of the instrumentation, and he introduces most of the songs with a long story about how a song like that might come to be written (eg, "If you were staying in a Holiday Inn Express in King-of-Prussia, Pennsylvania, this is the song you'd write, too."). Uh-huh. He also gave out his home address in Durham, in case anyone in the audience wants to stop by.
The eccentricity made a good set even better, though. They played several songs off last year's excellent The Sunset Tree, including "This Year," which is just a great song (especially on New Year's Day), and "Love Love Love," which I listened to almost every day in the Congo. Rare is the independent rock artist who can actually sing about love, who can make references to faith and doubt, in a way that captures the beauty of things that are fleeting, and that manages to do all of this without seeming contrived. It's a beautiful song that made a beautiful show almost perfect.


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