Seen at the Vic Theatre during the Mountain Goats show at about 7:20 p.m.
Josh blathered on and on as we walked into the theater, attempting to fill my head with more information about this band than it could ever possibly contain.
"I mean, they're just so freakin' prolific, you know? They've put out, like, a million songs since the 90's, and they're all so good. John Darnielle's a fucking god."
It's not that I wasn't interested in the band. Actually, I really liked all the songs that Josh put on the mix CD for me. The lyrics were especially great. They could be so funny or so bitter or so beautiful, or all three. It's just that Josh is always a little...zealous for my tastes. He never shuts up, and he always seems to be impossibly passionate about whatever he's saying. But he's the only friend I've made since I moved here from Oklahoma, so I was, and am, willing to put up with his flaws. He's ultimately a good guy.
The ground floor of the theater was built in three levels, and we settled in near the front of the riser that was furthest back. A girl was standing there alone, facing the away from the stage.
"Are you saving spots for your friends?" Josh asked her.
"Well, I'm definitely saving one spot. I know one of my friends is coming, but I don't know who else she's bringing. I doubt it will be that many people, though. I'm sure you can squeeze in," she replied with a smile.
While she and Josh had a conversation about concert etiquette, I surveyed my surroundings. I like seeing rock concerts in old theaters like this one. It always seems to give the evening a pleasantly surreal quality. We were standing in a great spot. I could lean against the railing, and since we were at the front of the riser we were a step above everyone else's heads. Perfect for a short person like me. I could see everything clearly.
Eventually the lights went down, and the opening band, Megafaun, came out to play. They were very classic country; their music reminded me of the type of stuff my mom likes to listen to. Think the "O Brother Where Art Thou" soundtrack mixed with Bob Dylan but more modern. They joked around a lot, and they were also extremely insistent on audience participation. At one point they divided the audience into several sections and had us all sing different parts. I was shocked by how nice we all sounded. It seemed rather on key for a large group of people.
Finally the Mountain Goats came out to play. While Josh screamed the lyrics and vehemently bobbed his head in time to the music, I tried to let myself get lost in the songs. I like John Darnielle's voice, but I'm not quite sure how to describe it. It's nasally and sharp, but in a good way. I think that if the thorn of a rose could sing, it would sound like his voice. I had never heard most of the songs before, but I enjoyed them anyway. Many of them reminded me of people and places and situations that I had left behind in Oklahoma. I guess that makes sense. I haven't been in Chicago for long, so the songs didn't remind me of anything here.
The show went on for quite a while. During their second encore, they played a song that I did recognize, one that Josh had put on the CD for me, called "This Year." I was even able to sing along with the chorus: "I am going to make it through this year if it kills me. I am going to make it through this year if it kills me." I am going to make it through this year if it kills me.
Yes, I was at that Mountain Goats show. And yes, it was spectacular. (In case you were wondering, I am the girl with whom Josh had a conversation about concert etiquette.) I am so glad that I noticed yesterday that it wasn't sold out and bought a ticket. They are really fantastic live. I've only seen them once before, at Pitchfork Music Festival a really long time ago. 2005, or something like that. It was definitely worth it to see them again. They played "Cubs in Five," which is the first song I ever heard of theirs, and "No Children," which is the second song I ever heard of theirs. And lots of other amazing songs that are more serious. Well, I guess both those songs are serious, but they're kind of dark-humor-serious. They just put out a new album. If you haven't listened to them, you absolutely should. Click the link above. Also listen to Megafaun. They are lovely as well. And nice people. I talked to them for a bit after the show.
And now, good night.