Local Review: The Mountain Goats

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On June 1st, American indie folk group “the Mountain Goats” came to The Fillmore. The band brought a unique show to their diverse array of audience members, including those who have been listening to John Darnielle’s haunting lyrics since his solo beginnings in 1991, and others — fans of their newer, more produced albums. The Mountain Goats have a long history of self-recording and producing initially low-cost cassette and vinyl releases. In more recent years, they have been studio recording, working on new collaborations, and continuing to grow their large discography. While John Darnielle — current vocalist, guitarist, and keyboardist — started solo performing under the plural name “the Mountain Goats,” he has since collaborated with a wide range of artists, and has added three band members (including a drummer, which took 12 years to add to the band) — Peter Hughes, bass and backing vocals, Matt Douglas, flute, saxophone, clarinet, keyboard, backing vocals, and Jon Wurster on drums.

Holy Sons (Portlander Emil Samos) opened for the band. Samos’s solo performance was simplistic, yet extremely powerful. Alone on the stage save for his guitar and a harsh spotlight, his heartfelt songs rang through the entirety of The Fillmore, capturing even the busy bartenders’ eyes and ears, pulling them into the darkly beautiful stories. Samos’s music has been described as everything from “dark, languid psychedelia” by Portland Mercury to “avant-folk” by Willamette Week … yet there really is no way to classify the emotional lyrics and complicated song structures — not to mention the guitar. Man, can that guy play.

And again, the Mountain Goats. Just the band’s name alone triggers reminiscent melodies played throughout my youth, a soundtrack that always seemed to accompany my life events. Darnielle’s voice is so uniquely his own, and the band’s style, while they have explored musically, is distinct — a soothing, melodic mix of indie, folk, rock, and a little bit of jam. It’s the type of music that everybody can dance to — that doesn’t leave you questioning your movements as you sway to the music. The music is almost falsely uplifting, however, as the group’s lyrics are often dark — but in a pensive, not aggressive, way. The performance was energetic and captivating. If you’re soul-searching for your new favorite not-quite-folk, not-quite-rock, not-quite any genre band, you’ve come to the right group (or goat).

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About Author

Brittany is a writer, audio creator, and media student living in San Francisco. She enjoys peanut butter, cats, and long walks in Golden Gate Park.

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