I made a last minute decision to go the Mountain Goats concert this Monday with a group of friends and a twin brother who were way bigger fans of the Mountain Goats, were all members of WUOG, and could talk endlessly about how great the Mountain Goats are. Some of them even have John Darnielle’s words inked on their skin. I still love the Mountain Goats; they’re one of my favorite bands, but the music of John Darnielle inspires a rabid fandom that few groups can match or even dream of. This show proves why. The audience was incredible, one of the liveliest I’ve ever witnessed and Darnielle fed off the crowd’s exuberance; and he was maybe a little drunk which may explain why he was exceptionally personable. Between each track he went at great lengths to tell the story behind his songs, most of them anecdotes about pro-wrestlers and pro-wrestling terms—the main thematic content from his newest album, Beat the Champ—and encouraged us to follow pro-wrestling if only for the sake of understanding the band’s past and future catalogue.
The Mountain Goats were thrilled at the crowd’s enthusiasm for their new record and some other tracks ranging from Coroners Gambit to All Hail West Texas, Tallahassee, Sunset Tree, All Eternals Deck, and Transcendental Youth. The band played both Spent Gladiator 1 & 2, which like many Mountain Goats songs temper life-affirming optimism with the dark and desperate feelings that invades us. John Darnielle has always written music for people on the fringes, forgotten heroes, and those who deviate in any remote way from the accepted normal standards of American life, but in doing so he reminds how universal it is to feel weird, and lonely American life can be. By the end of the night everyone proudly yelled “Hail Satan” alongside John and Jeff and Cyrus and reminded us that the characters in “Best Death Metal Band in Denton” will always receive the warmest welcome in Athens.
By Tom Jurgens