Reviews > Shows
The Mountain Goats in Austin
Photo by Jaime Butler
The Mountain Goats
With fourteen albums under your belt and a dedicated fanbase ready to sing along to nearly every song, where does one begin to put together a setlist for a show? This is the problem John Darnielle and his band The Mountain Goats faced for their current tour. A good problem, yes, but a problem nonetheless. And one he tackled with a balance of old and new, slow and fast, and punctuated by jokes and anecdotes between tracks.
Emo’s semi-new digs in East Austin played host to the folk rock veterans on December 5th, who entertained a full house for two hours with a spattering of the catalogue. But before they began, the crowd was treated to Matthew White and his full stage of musicians, delivering brash, soulful art-rock. The eight-piece group gave way to the headliner, and the crowd reacted accordingly.
Touring in support of their most recent album, Transcendental Youth, Darnielle walked out with the band and led off with “White Cedar.” “Up the Wolves” soon followed, as did stories about many of the songs. Throughout the night, Darnielle took turns turns playing solo – like for “Baboon” and “Rotten Stinking Mouthpiece” – with the band for songs like “Psalms 40:2” and “The Diaz Brothers,” and even including a brass section on a couple.
“The Diaz Brothers,” one of the more upbeat numbers from the new release, also provided Darnielle the opportunity to explain the song’s origin, based on the drug dealing siblings from Scarface, and how his kids laugh when Tony Montana laugh explains he “buried those cockroaches.” This song serves as recognition for the brothers, and another chance to sing along.
And though at times the subject matter dealt with weightier topics like abuse, loss, and nuclear physics, it did nothing to dampen the spirits of either Darnielle or the crowd, who fed off each other all night. This was a man happy to be on stage, and happy to hear the audience sing with him, thanking them frequently throughout the show.
After opening the encore with “San Bernadino” and “Transcendental Youth,” the night closed with “This Year,” and we were again released into the wild. We will meet again soon, John, and just like an old friend, we’ll share stories, songs, and a few laughs, the way we did before.
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