Music for high maintenance machines

Mountain Goats

Apologies for the darkness in this pic, but at least it's appropriate.

A pattern seems to emerge every time I attend a concert at the Wonder Ballroom and attempt to review it here. Step One: Drink red wine. Step Two: Promptly forget to take notes. Step Three: Wake up too late to shower. Step four: Curse pattern. So forgive me as I try to piece together the details from the Mountain Goats and Final Fantasy show last night. At least, I think it was last night. It feels like eons ago.

Some (hazy) observations:

Owen Pallett is dreamy! To bring the subject back to the music, his live act is a lot like Andrew Bird’s but without the whistling. And both men are dreamy!

John Darnielle brought up the brief period of time he lived in Portland, as he references in “Genesis 3:23.” During one of the numerous anecdotes to the audience, he mentioned a storage unit on NE Broadway. Later, he performed a song with Owen Pallett on the violin that name-drops the Burnside Bridge. As evidenced by the fact that Darnielle no longer lives here, his time in the city was not spent happily. The “Genesis” song describes a point when the songwriter was “doing the things that train wrecks do—crashing into things.”

Selections from The Life of the World to Come were heavily represented. Since Darnielle and the band are touring in support of the album, that makes sense. The album’s Biblical cues have been discussed at length, and like much of Darnielle’s work, a lot of the verses pack tightly-wound punches. All the same, I’m not connecting with the newest addition to the Mountain Goats’ canon as readily as I did with Tallahassee and The Sunset Tree. It may simply require a quiet hour and attentive ear. But I kept wanting to blurt out “No Children!” and “Dance Music!” between songs. Fortunately for everyone around, I exercised restraint (mostly – at least one of those titles slipped out once). Another stroke of luck – the Mountain Goats finished the regular set with “This Year” and concluded the encore with an unembellished rendition of “Love Love Love.” Needless to say, I loved it.

  • “Isaiah 45:23” ~ Mountain Goats ~ The Life of the World to Come ~ 4AD
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2 Responses to “Music for high maintenance machines”


  1. 1 Mark November 17, 2009 at 8:48 PM

    Nice…I was at the show, too! “Genesis 3:23” sounded so much better live…it’s kinda silly-sounding on the album.


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