The Mountain Goats, No support

Joe Clark 10/10/2009

'We're the Mountain Goats,' announces John Darnielle as he takes the stage alone. And he is, whether performing alone or with band. Now 17 albums in, his unflinchingly honest songs run through the earliest home recorded cassette releases to his latest bible inspired opus, The Life of the World to Come, like the writing in seaside rock.

The first five songs are delivered at the piano and are almost
unbearably candid. While he bangs away at the instrument like a monkey Mozart, the light and shade that it brings are bewitching. Switching to more familiar acoustic guitar he leans into the mic, thrashing away and twitching, giving absolutely everything, whether the song's subject is torture, old friends or computer games. Explaining the 'band's' name, Darnielle says that they aim for the high slopes where the grass is sweetest, meaning that they sometimes fall to their deaths. It's safe to say that he considers this a risk worth taking.

Warning us that 'it gets dark from here on in,' he launches into Matthew 25:21 - the story of a close friend dying of cancer: 'I am airplane tumbling wing over wing, tried to listen to my instruments, they don't say anything.' After the final line, 'It's three days later when I get the call, and there's nobody around to break my fall.' You can hear a pin, and the odd tear, drop.

The audience of devotees know most of the words, even correcting the singer at one point, and for the encore get The Best little Death Metal band out of Denton. As the cry of Hail Satan rings around the venue, you have to salute this singular talent and his quest for music's higher ground.