John Darnielle stands and enthralls - Oh My Rockness

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John Darnielle stands and enthralls

October 27, 2005
Genius. Pioneer. Artist. Troubadour. The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle has accurately been called them all (even by that hip, trendsetting zine, The New Yorker). But John Darnielle is also one weird dude. And it is his intense energetic eccentricity, along with his talent, that makes Darnielle's live performances so completely engaging. The Mountain Goats are one of the very few bands in which even those blase about their albums can fall in love with their live shows.

The ever-prolific Darnielle has put out something like 1,432 albums (a somewhat exaggerated stat) under The Mountain Goats moniker. He spent almost forever recording on cassette tapes while working as a nurse in a mental hospital, and only within the last handful of years has he taken advantage of the wonders of compact discs and proper distribution. This is a man who does it his own way in virtually every way; in terms of singing (his pinched, nasal style is either amazing or annoying), songwriting (his cryptic narrative tales are often impossible to decipher), and his strange stagecraft.

There's just something enthralling about watching Darnielle's intense tics as he sings and strums his guitar with frantic abandon. I mean, the man looks like he's either had way too much coffee, or really has to pee. I can see how these hyperkinetic antics can be grating for some, but for me, and many, it is glorious. Plus, he is right near the top of "killer crowd quips." Don't heckle this dude... his witty retort will hit you back before you can even say "Free Bird."

There's no better way to be festive (he's playing on Halloween AND a certain Rockness birthday... wink wink, nudge nudge) than to see The Mountain Goats play this week. The crowd energy is high in direct response to the singer who gives life to these soaring songs. And sure, John Darnielle might be a little out-there, but that's exactly why we jostle for prime position. We want to get as close as we possibly can to this enigmatic man.

(And I wasn't kidding about seeing this show even if you don't like The Mountain Goats albums. I'm telling you, it's just better.)

The Mountain Goats play Bowery Ballroom this Saturday, October 29th (SOLD OUT) and Knitting Factory on Monday, October 31st (buy tix).


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