It's difficult to capture the essence of the recorded
Mountain Goats in a stage performance. There's something intimate and tender about each song. Listening to his records exposes
a secret sadness, yet cultivates happiness. In live setting, Darnielle gives his material new life as he hops, dances,
and stomps around to his songs, or croons into the microphone. His crowd is typically equally animated. They're often a a vocal bunch, thinking they're
singing to themselves, but really they'll sing so loud everyone around them can
Last Night's Noise Pop show was a very different performance. First of all, the Swedish American Hall felt more like a church, VFW Hall, or high school auditorium
than venues Darnielle has played in the past. The room had a small, low stage surrounded by wooden chairs and space up front to sit on the floor.
Darnielle showed a different side of his performance here, sitting on a stool, sans band, and playing many of his older songs. For long time
fans of the Mountain Goats, the variety of material he played --in a room with perfect acoustics--was a treat.
The set list was organized alphabetically, starting off with "Alphabetizing," "Billy the Kid's Dream of the Magic Shoes," and "Cobscook Bay."
Darnielle's anecdotes and casual banter
were as endearing as
his songs. Before playing "The Best Ever Death Metal
Band In Denton," he reminded listeners of the importance of optimism. He also explained that the show was a
benefit organized by his 6th grade crush, and spent a few
minutes discussing the importance of Endabuse, the family violence
protection fund that would be benefiting from his ticket sales that evening. He recalled seeing
his stepfather beat his mother, the inspiration behind "Dance Music,"
and praised the work of organizations to stop domestic abuse.
Overall, the show highlighted the personal stories and musical gems of a breathtakingly
talented lyricist, instrumentalist, and performer. John Darnielle is the
most charming man alive.
Personal bias: I am completely smitten with John Darnielle.
Random detail: As part of the benefit John Vanderslice was serving wine.
By the way: You can find Endabuse online to learn more about them. You can also donate online.