Peninsular Place

The Magazine

June 18, 2013

The Mountain Goats [review]

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Written by: Jasmine Zweifler
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Review and photos by Jasmine Zweifler

During a hushed moment at the Mountain Goats performance at Detroit’s Majestic Theatre on June 12, an audience member raised theDSC_0345ir voice and addressed the lead singer directly: “YOU’RE MY SAVIOR, JOHN!” This just about sums up the mood of the evening. The Majestic was packed to the gills with misfits and sad kids singing rapturously along to Darnielle’s rawly poetic and poetically raw lyrics. The  Mountain Goats returned to Detroit after a 10 year absence and there was more than enough affection to make up for the long separation. The opening chords of nearly every song of the night were greeted with a roar of excitement as recognition dawned on the crowd; each one was someone’s favorite. Darnielle seemed genuinely gleeful for a man who hangs his hat on songs about deep, dark psychological recesses, a huge grin never leaving his face.

As enthused as both the band the audience seemed to be, the set felt off balance, heavily favoring tracks from “Under the Sunset Tree” (“This Year,” “Broom People” and “Dance Music”) — an odd choice considering the album was released in 2005, while this year’s stellar “Transcendental Youth” got a short shrift with only “Spent Gladiator 2″ (a bit of a snooze) and “The Diaz Brothers” making the cut. The set also featured a long stretch of ballads that gave the evening a bit of a pacing problem. This tendency toward the moribund was highlighted when Darnielle commented that if we liked them tonight, we should have heard them with a drummer “when we really kick ass.” It did beg the question why the choice was made to tour with only two band members — Darnielle’s only accompaniment for the night being bassist Peter Hughes, who kept things classy in a suit and seemed to understand his role as a support system. The high DSC_0395point of the evening was “No Children” — a perennial crowd pleaser as the audience yelled together, “I HOPE YOUDIE! I HOPE WE ALL DIE!” Who doesn’t love that?

Darnielle kept it short in terms of digression, but he did stop to talk to the crowd about agoraphobia, his favorite dance move, his glorious hair (which has indeed grown quite long and flippable) and the musical legacy of Detroit. As the encore, they brought out their opening act, The Baptist Generals, and took on “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton,” a suitably sentimental but curiously rockin’ capper on an emotional evening.

About the Author

Jasmine Zweifler

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