The Mountain Goats

Spaceland, Silver Lake, Calif. 5/28/04

Music Reviews The Mountain Goats
Share Tweet Submit Pin
The Mountain Goats

John Darnielle, with his awkward, spastic physical performance style, isn’t exactly the easiest guy in the world to watch in concert. But his smartly descriptive lyrics are certainly poetry to the ears. Tonight, he’s billed as The Mountain Goats, but he’s only accompanied by a bass player (and a drummer on two songs).

Darnielle sat on a chair, armed only with an acoustic guitar, a notebook and a drink. The notebook contained lyrics to new songs, potential song titles and various word rhymes, leading one to assume Darnielle is a 24/7 kind of a songwriter. But with grippingly memorable songs like “Palmcorder Vajna” (sample lyric: “And I dreamt of a house / Haunted by all you tweakers with your hands out”) from the new We Shall All Be Healed album—which unflinchingly addresses the frightening lives of methamphetamine addicts—Darnielle’s dedication to his craft is clearly paying off.

When he’s not empathizing with ‘the tweakers,’ or ironically praising the virtues of dance music, Darnielle can also be highly personal. For instance, he tried out a new tune called “Song For My Stepfather,” during which he repeated the chilling refrain: “You erase me.” And with just two instruments on stage it was almost impossible to dodge the bullets of his every deadly word.

Mountain goats are animals that can traverse some of the most difficult terrain imaginable. Similarly, Darnielle has dared to travel much troublesome lyrical territory tonight, which made for a rocky trip well worth the taking