The Mountain Goats - June 12, 2010, Blue Moose Tap House, Iowa City, IA

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14. Jun. 2010, 23:43

The Mountain Goats took the stage in the Blue Moose, a building that has apparently been recycled several times recently and is now a music venue. There is a main bar area, then doors that open into the concert hall. This served the music quite well because there was a lack of peripheral noise by regular bar-goers, while drinks could still be had from an ice-filled tub at the back. The only trade-off was the lack of air circulation in the room. How the trio could perform in full suits is beyond me, but perform they did.

The Goats as a full band is a lively experience. A year ago, we witnessed the awesomeness of John Darnielle solo in the same city. That had its own charms and memories, but having him stroll out and give us the piano version of 1 Samuel 15:23 sets a mood all its own. Peter Hughes was already behind the bass and Jon Wurster took care of the drums. The tour is still in support of the Life of the World to Come. At these shows, they play a lot from the big six produced albums, plus a few old throwbacks. Last fall, the ancillary album they pulled from most (besides the new release) was We Shall All Be Healed. This time around, it was without doubt Tallahassee. Indeed, there were six selections from that disc (and only three from Life). Highlights were Game Shows Touch Our Lives and Oceanographer's Choice. The Sunset Tree was decently represented, with a personal surprise for the five of us that came together being Lion's Teeth. Hours earlier, we had wondered what certain metaphors in this song could mean. After a reading of the lyrics and follow-up listen to the track, we hashed out ideas and focused on that long white tooth. It was fantastic to hear the track live; same for Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod, which booms from the full band sound.

Mid-set, we received the expected, short solo session from Darnielle. I certainly didn't expect to hear Jenny, and a single treat from All Hail West Texas is not something to take for granted. At least, it might be the only time I get to sing along to "hi-diddle-dee-dee/ goddamn/ the pirate's life for me" with a bunch of other sweaty adorers. Somewhere along the way, we got to hear Darnielle talk about "the Iowa connection," spelling out various stories about which songs may have been conceived during his long stay in the Hawkeye State. While talking about working on a grain farm in Colo, he mentioned meth-heads stealing anhydrous to sell it to folks in Marshalltown, my hometown. Even as a slight dig it's entertaining stuff, and I shouted out a rebuttal as best I could. At the end of the set we were treated with the obvious closer, but one that no one saw coming was Going to Georgia. It's not too obscure for any standard fan, and it's one that sums up a lot of the sound and feel of the older Goats catalog. Hearing it played with all three Goats and was a gift. Is there a better line than, "the most remarkable thing about you standing in the doorway/ is that it's you/ and that you're standing in the doorway"? Shivers.

For the encore, we got a quieter piano tune in the form of Genesis 30:3, after which Darnielle scolded the talkers by telling them they were forbidden from enjoying the next song. But of course everyone was on board and welcome for the fan favorite, No Children. "I hope we all die" was the resounding echo in the hall, to much applause. Lastly, the man of the hour took the microphone without any guitar in hand, cursing its short cord while the good man Hughes dropped a simple bass progression. They went on to play the (unknown to me) Houseguest, during which Darnielle stalked around the stage singing quirky lyrics and staring out amongst his followers. He'd lock eyes with someone, approach them maniacally, then grasp their head or shoulders and tuck them under his arm, locking them in place while the song took him. It was a laying on of hands by a man in a dark suit whose mythology rests on roadmaps, ghosts, monsters, and the endlessly cursed and faithful. By song's end, he was walking into the middle of the crowd, microphone be damned, singing to everyone and singing to himself, reveling in what he claimed was the biggest crowd he's played to in the state. It certainly seemed the most enthusiastic, and this fan dares to say it's his favorite Mountain Goats mass in a life where services are held far too infrequently.

Full setlist in correct order courtesy of JD fangirl, Danaca:

1 Samuel 15:23
Old College Try
Psalms 40:2
Game Shows Touch Our Lives
Lion's Teeth
Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod

(solo)
Woke Up New
Going to Scotland
Jenny

In the Craters on the Moon
Oceanographer's Choice
Have to Explode
See America Right
Going to Georgia
This Year

(encore)
Genesis 30:3
No Children
Houseguest

(To put all this in some kind of historical perspective, this concert took place on the day that USA tied England 1-1 in the first round of the 2010 World Cup.)

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