The Mountain Goats @ Badlands
w/ Oh Pep!
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Concerts from The Mountain Goats are equally cerebral, emotional and hilarious affairs. Prolific songwriter and novelist John Darnielle is a bona fide character, and last Thursday he juxtaposed devotees shouting the lyrics to songs about domestic abuse with a roomful of people making werewolf noises.
Before Darnielle and co. had the room in stitches walking on to Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water, Melbourne folk duo Oh Pep! held the sold out crowd in the palms of their hands with a totally delightful opening set.
With very funny banter traded between singer/guitarist Olivia “Oh” Hally and violin/mandolin shredder Pepita “Pep!” Emmerichs, they moved between tender, beautiful moments such as Tea, Milk and Honey, and more complex math-rock-folk. Doctor Doctor closed their bracket and it’d be fair to say they won plenty of fans on this particular night.
Once Deep Purple had herded the tightly packed room back to their vantage points, a newly minted four-piece Mountain Goats kicked straight into In the Craters of the Moon, introducing Perth to new band member Matt Douglas. His flute, keys and guitar parts added texture to their acoustic three-piece set up all night, but it was the wicked, shredding sax solos on this and later on standout Oceanographer’s Choice that really made his presence felt.
It was a memorable opening, but the following trio of Harlem Roulette, Damn These Vampires and Broom People really set the room alight and suggested this evening would be something special. Darnielle’s admission that, “In a huge missed opportunity I spelled the first word of this song without an ‘e’ and as a result we’ve never been invited to play Broome,” was the first of many between song crack-ups.
Perhaps it was an odd intro to the first of four songs from landmark 2005 album The Sunset Tree, a record largely attributed to his abusive step father, but Darnielle is more about celebrating the evacuation of demons than drowning in them.
The set touched on every Mountain Goats album since 2002’s All Hail West Texas, even dating back as far as 2001 EP Oh Juhu Beach for Transjordanian Blues, a highlight for the faithful.
Likewise three songs from upcoming album Goths (out May 19) starred, including latest single Andrew Eldrich is Moving Back to Leeds complete with flute solo, Shelved (featuring a wicked introduction explaining that Darnielle had no idea what the Australian slang for shelved meant when he wrote the song), and We Do It Different on the West Coast, which felt like an ode to our sandy city and rocked another jammin’ sax solo.
Then their were the classics. Woke Up New inspired a touching, nearly a cappella audience sing-along; Up the Wolves had blood boiling and emotions on high; and encore highlights Love Love Love and No Children made for an excellent finale as Darnielle stalked the speaker stacks.
Perhaps perennial fave This Year has more impact when it’s played later in the year (imagine hearing it during 2016 even – we really missed out there) and sure Mountain Goat rather than Sly Fox on their beer rider would have been a nice touch, but you get the idea. I’d have to really split hairs to find fault in this particular Mountain Goats concert.