The Mountain Goats had to scale heady heights to battle the noise coming from another show downstairs at Webster Hall on Thursday night, but the sold out crowd would not be deterred either. The band were celebrating the release of their 15th studio album, Beat the Champ, which came out on Merge Records on the 7th of April.
Holy Sons opened the show, replacing Ides of Gemini at short notice due to an injury to drummer Kelly Johnston. I enjoyed the band’s Crazy Horse-esque set, guitarist Emil Amos plays with a great tone and has a good voice to match.
The Mountain Goats started things off with Southwestern Territory, the opening track from Beat the Champ. It made for a bit of a low-key start, but the segue from Slow West Vultures (from 2004’s We Shall All Be Healed) into The Legend of Chavo Guerrero seemed like an inspired combo.
Whatever show was going on downstairs was threatening to ruin the more intimate moments, particularly when John Darnielle played solo; lyrics like “I think I’ll stay here, til I feel whole again, I don’t know when…” don’t have the same effect when the floor is rumbling and the sound is bleeding through.
Downstairs became less of an issue during the second half of the show, which was mostly upbeat rockers. We were also treated to some additional brass musicians, which John said would just be for tonight. They certainly helped round out the sound on Foreign Object.
Mountain Goats fans are certainly enthusiastic, and every song turns into a singalong. even the obscure unreleased songs. Over the course of the night, seven of the thirteen tracks from Beat the Champ get an airing. While lyrically the album centres around professional wrestling, some of the lyrics and themes come across as universal.
There’s something perfect about ending a set with 1000 people screaming I am gonna make it through this year, if it kills me, as the band end with This Year from 2005’s The Sunset Tree. One of the more passionate calls for an encore I’ve heard in New York causes not one, but two encores.
Twenty-two songs, two encores, blood, sweat and tears, and all done by 10:30pm. But for the unwanted emo remix from the other room, the show was fantastic. With the strength of the band’s discography there will always be songs you’d like to hear that don’t get played, but their aren’t many acts that can trot out unreleased obscurities and still have the whole room singing.
Mountain Goats are on tour through June (current dates).
Slow West Vultures
The Legend of Chavo Guerrero
Game Shows Touch Our Lives
The Young Thousands
Stabbed to Death Outside San Juan
Until I Am Whole
Love Love Love
Never Quite Free
Up the Wolves
Amy AKA Spent Gladiator 1
The Ballad of Bull Ramos
Cry for Judas
The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton