Hail Satan and celebrate the wolves. I saw The Mountain Goats Live.
It was a twist of fate that allowed me to see The Mountain Goats at The Corner. A death in the family of someone I did not know personally. This person had to fly interstate and miss the concert. A mutual friend had used social media to advertise the sale of the ticket and I was one of those dorks who managed to be quick enough to snap it up. I had nothing else to do.
The plan was to meet for Pho on Victoria st in Richmond before the show. I arrived at the place 45 minutes early because I had never been to this particular place before and did not want my idiocy in regards to directions, causing me to make a group of four yong women have to wait for me. I over shot. To pass the time I went and bought a bag od hot and spicy fried onion rings, from one of the Asian grocery stores. I stood outside the restaurant and ate my onion rings as I watched the pedestrians of Victoria St walk by as the sun started setting. I felt a quick and beautiful wave of contentment wash over me as I stood there in the dusk and breathed in some rather dank smelling air. It didn’t bother me at all. I watched two old guys who i was pretty sure were drug addicts, walk past. As they did so, a smoke fell out of one of their pockets and fell to the filthy ground. The friend picked it up. ” Oh, open your eyes, man.” The one who picked up the smoke exclaimed.
”What.” the person who had let the smoke fall from the pocket of his baggy track suit pants said. They went on their unsteady way. I continued eating the pre dinner snack. These things are so amazing. I think as I chew happily and enjoy the crunching sound. I watch a woman in dirty pyjama bottoms and a singlet, holding a large stuffed zebra, rush past me in a determined quick step. She is not wearing shoes.
I did not know about the horrible thing that had happened to my ticket’s previous owner at this point. I was just excited to be seeing a band that I had loved for so long and that had such strong emotional ties to certain parts of my life. I had written love sick letters from London with The Mountain Goats as a soundtrack. A sad old man who lived with his mother in Manchester had put the song ‘See America Right” on a mix cd he made for me. ”Woke Up New” had been a song I listened to on repeat and cried whilst doing so, for a universe of reasons. Some of them tangible and some of them merely ephemeral and internally driven. It will be interesting to see them live and with a group of people sharing the experience. I have always considered my listening to this particular band as incredibley personal. It usually makes me feel as if John Darnel is singing songs just for me and my own sense of sadness and determination, my own sense of fluctuating failure and triumph.
Out of the group I am going to see The Mountain Goats with, I only know one. This is one of the root causes of my running late anxiety. I need this time to contemplate the looming social situation. I must be friendly and funny and naturally so. I decide to make use of my earliness and get a table for all of us. This will give me time to look at the menu and decide what I want without the distraction of making conversation at the same time. Thanh Nga Nine is not overly busy yet so I get a booth near the entrance. It is over dinner that I learn of the particular Butterfly effect that lead to me being able to go and the person who was meant too, not. I am more than happy to pay for the ticket. The amount seems so trivial. Someone’s mother committed suicide. The feeling I had while eating delicious crispy prawn mini pancakes and hearing the awful story was similiar to the feeling I had a couple of years ago. When I found out that a dear friend had died whilst I was fighting for my own life in intensive care. it was devastated guilt. It was not something that goes away entirely. It simply rears up at random moments, the feeling that I am completely unworthy to have survived when my friend did not. That is something I shall write more about at another time.
Because of the circumstances surrounding my concert ticket, I was even more determined to completely immerse myself in the experience. I was pretty sure that John Darnel himself would appreciate the complex and conflicting happy/sad emotions percolating within me.
It was fully dark and quite cold as we stood in line to enter the gig. It must have been quite a sight for the people standing in the line on either end of our group. Five very eclectic and adorable young women, standing as a cluster of cute in the line and discussing the worst oral sex we had ever received. If you only plan to lick down there once, don’t even bother. Blowing on it is also weird. I mean only blowing on it, like its a freaking hot bowl of soup. That is not considered satisfying oral pleasure. We were laughing heaps in horror and outrage. It made me think of a certain time, years ago on my share house bathroom floor while a party raged downstairs. It was an example of excellent oral sex and so was irrelevant at this juncture. The memory made me smile and blush a little. If you cannot go down on me like I’m a goddamn queen, don’t even.
Once inside it was warm and dark. My friend buys me a drink and is determined to make sure we find a position where I can see. It is the best. I get front to the right of the stage, near the security guard who is happy for me to stand so close to the stage. I have my very own small pocket of space in which to dance without fear of anyone hurting me.
When Mr. Darnel himself and band walked on stage and started playing I was struck by the energy and the enthusiasm of everyone in the band. Darnel commanded the stage with the aura of a rock n roll academic. He would jump up and down as he played guitar and do little star jumps in his pants and suit jacket and self described ”excellent hair.” I think one of the reasons that I have stayed a fan of the songs of The Mountain Goats is the story telling. Only he could write a record with the them being professional wrestling and have me love and be moved by it instead of mock it for it’s theme. This is how he gets you. This is why I love The Mountain Goats. John Darnel can be poetic and compelling whilst also tugging at your heart and brain with surprising material. I look forward to his concept album that is dedicated to Goths.
What was truly wonderful was the brilliant and hilarious stories and banter that took place in between songs. Jogn Darnel is a front man with the kind of understated confidence that never feels excessive or misplaced. His ability to be both self deprecating and heartfelt exuberance at simply being able to do this thing he enjoys was felt by the crowd and mirrored back to him. It was an example of positive collective conscience that I had not experienced in a while and restored my love and appreciation for what a truly great live music experience can achieve. It made me happy from the hair follicles to my toe nails. I danced in my little space pocket and threw my head back as I sang along to so many songs and sing/shouted the words to the ceiling of The Corner Hotel.
It was as I danced my little body and sang the words with all my might to No Children, that my friend did a sneaky video to capture the joy that was evident by my jumping and the toss of my head. When she sent it to me and I watched it I felt so nostalgic for myself and a time so very recent. It also allowed me, for a short eight seconds, get to witness the undeniable evidence that I can be totally and entirely joyful. It is something I so easily forget.