Thursday, September 21st, 2006
Maybe Sprout Wings
Goats, goats, The Mountain Goats, Lee’s Palace, Tuesday night. We don’t need no stinking preamble, save to say that Get Lonely is one of my favourite records of the year and the Goats are always an entertaining show so a good time was pretty much guaranteed.
Opening up this leg of the tour was Christine Fellows, Winnipeg-er and singer/songwriter much beloved of John Darnielle. Her four-piece band sported some unconventional instrumentation that added a tinkling, whimsical feel to her set that complimented Fellows’ jolly, perma-grin persona perfectly though it seemed a little at odds with the lyrical content of some of her songs – or maybe it fit perfectly (nudge, wink). Darnielle might be a little overly-effusive in saying, “Christine writes the best damned songs in the whole world” but playing material from her latest record Paper Anniversary, she did put on a charming opening set.
I first saw the Mountain Goats live last year on my 30th birthday and while some thought it was odd way to celebrate, it was far more memorable than the ones where I’ve gotten blotto. This show didn’t have the special occasion behind it, but it was special all the same. And you know, reading over the review of that show, I’m at a bit of a loss on how to expand on that without repeating myself. Sufficed to say, everything there still holds – Darnielle is still and entertaining, engaging and more than a bit quirky frontman with his wildly expressive face displaying what could either be joy or agony – you’re never quite sure. And Peter Hughes remains an invaluable musical companion, contributing perfectly composed, melodic basslines and backing vocals in a manner that’s completely minimal, but with a huge impact on the overall sound.
What was different at this show was the contrast between material from The Sunset Tree, from which they chose to play the more uptempo numbers, and Get Lonely, which was represented by the quieter, more wounded material. At points during the latter, Darnielle practically gasped his way through the lyrics, testing the audience’s ability to stay silent, straining to hear. But as before, the focus wasn’t placed squarely on the new material and drew from all across the Goats repetoire. While this surely satisfied the die-hard fans, I felt it did the new record a little bit of a disservice as it’s the collective mood of the songs is a large part of their power. But, on the other hand, if he’d played the album in its entirety, it may have been too depressing to bear. He probably had the right idea.
Mountain Goats fans are a devout, fanatical lot so when Darnielle seemed to open the door for requests about halfway through the set, it became a game of one-upmanship with everyone trying to out-obscure the other. He deftly dodged these by stating that he preferred playing the new songs to old ones and that would be whoring himself – and he was no whore. My own silent requests were answered in the encores, when he rolled out “No Children” to open the first and “The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton” to close the second. Because there’s no real way to top a club full of indie kids screaming, “Hail Satan”.
I picked a prime spot straight in front of Darnielle so I got some real good, sharp shots of the mic stand. Oh yeah. But the next part of the Amoeba Records instore/interview with Carl Newman is now up on YouTube – I think that’s three in total so far out of… more than three. I think. And Zoilus has a far more expansive and detailed review of the show.
Photos: Mountain Goats, Christine Fellows @ Lee’s Palace – September 19, 2006
MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Woke Up New”
MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Wild Sage”
Video: The Mountain Goats – “Woke Up New” (MOV)
Video: Christine Fellows – “Migrations” (MOV)
MySpace: Christine Fellows
The latest installment of Richard Buckner’s tour diary is up on the Merge Blog. The Toronto show only gets a passing mention (“my summer cold slapped me in the face”) but at least that’s better than how Montreal treated him (“someone had broken out my back window and taken my cell phone and passport”). Dude has not had good luck touring Canada, as he recounts. The Riverfront Times has a profile of Buckner (or someone claiming to be him – they do have his passport, after all).
Rogue Wave drummer Pat Spurgeon needs your help – to help fund a kidney transplant (he was born with one, it failed, he had it replaced, that’s now failing) the band are holding a benefit concert in San Francisco next week to raise funds but those who aren’t able to make it to San Fran can still help out via a PayPal fund set up via the band’s website. And if you’re interested in donating more than just money, maybe you can spare a kidney – Spurgeon’s blood type is O+. I can’t speak for the band but I suspect that if you were a match, you and all your children would be guest listed for Rogue Wave shows for the rest of your lives. But give a little if you can – it will all add up in the end.
Shows – Chad Van Gaalen will be in town at the Whippersnapper Art Gallery at College and Clinton on October 21, tickets $10. French Kicks and OKGO are at the Mod Club November 13. Most interesting, however, is Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 (aka Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey and Bill Rieflin) at the Mod Club on November 10, tickets $20. Word is that Hitchcock’s new one is a scorcher – more Soft Boys than The Soft Boys. Check it out:
The Ottawa Sun finds out what’s on Billy Bragg’s mind. The Chronicle Herald also gets a moment or two of his time. He’s at the Danforth Music Hall on Sunday and his Volume Two box set is out October 17.
Chart talks to Final Fantasy’s Owen Pallett about his Polaris win. The more I think about it, the more his victory seemed a no-brainer. Musical merit aside, he’s the perfect winner to inaugurate the award, giving it instant credibility with the oh-so cynical indie nation and handily avoiding accusations of major-label favouritism or general industry out-of-touchness that a more traditional and mainstream winner like Sarah Harmer would almost certainly have gotten. Which isn’t to imply that Final Fantasy wouldn’t have won solely on the artistic merits that the award cites – not at all – but I suspect that the organizers breathed a huge sigh of relief when the winner was announced as it makes their job of promoting the award next year and beyond much easier.