As Many Candles As Possible.

Posted: August 24, 2021 in Uncategorized

(poof) (poof) is this thing on? No matter, hit the power switch and let’s see if it blows up.

I will just cut the suspense and reveal that yes, I did cry. In order to keep people reading, I will not reveal at which point that happened.

The last live music I had seen was They Might Be Giants, March 5 2020. In this exact same theater, in a weird piece of synchronicity. In fact, this show was scheduled for the following May, but then the world went to right hell.

If you know anything about me, that amount of time without seeing live music left me with a gaping hole in my soul and my brain. WE MISSED A GODDAM SUMMERFEST, PEOPLE!!

Fortunately, the people who run the Pabst Theater are good ones, and the tickets remained valid, although the constant rescheduling was hard to take, and going into the kitchen everyday, seeing those tickets hanging on the bulletin board, was like COVID was taunting me.

BUT; eventually, at least here in Milwaukee, some amount of control and behavior modification was effected, and the show was scheduled for tonight — at the Artist’s request, all attendees had to present proof of vaccination and wear a mask. And we did! Look at us all!!

The Mountain Goats are one of my favorite bands to see live. The first time I saw them, John the singer, played his acoustic guitar until it didn’t have enough strings to play anymore, then switched to his electric (tonight, he only broke one string). I immediately dragged my concert buddy Ror to the show the next time they played, and the band became one of his favorites as well.

John Darnielle is an insanely prolific writer (his second book comes out this year) and during the FUCKING PANDEMIC he and his band have released three albums: In League With Dragons, Getting Into Knives, and this year’s Dark In Here. He got started in the midst of the Lo-Fi movement, probably unfairly, because he ws writing songs and recording them into a boombox and selling the cassettes. Because that was all he had, and believe me, a boombox microphone was not kind to his voice or phrasing. But somewhere along the line, I picked up a cassette of one of his earlier efforts, Sweden, and although I admit it took me a few listens to muddle through, eventually the lyrics and unusual song structures started to get me intrigued. So when they came through for a show, I went, and it was completely overwhelming and intoxicating. Although his recorded songs are often muted, and he keeps his voice muted, on a live show he and his band turn it into a cathartic stomp — and that first show I saw was a there piece band. The have since expanded to a five piece, with two added multi-instrumentalists adding keyboard, sax, and more guitars when necessary. AND THEY OFTEN ARE.

OK, I ill admit I don’t have a setlist yet, and I will also admit that his songs sometime have a title that has little to do with the actual lyrics. They opened with a relatively muted number, but by the time the second song blistered into being, I said ‘yep, there we go, I’m crying’. Not at the song so much as that we were having a mass communal event, as safe as we could under today’s conditions, and there was a band that was putting a lot of pent-up anger, love, and energy into playing for us.

At one point, John, who is usually pretty taciturn during a performance, came up to the mic and said “We are so very, very, very happy to be here tonight and that all of you are too” and other than that, they let the music speak for them. and it did, O my friends and capybaras did it ever. They played for – maybe 2 1/2 hours? And they unlimbered a couple of old songs I hadn’t seen them play in some time.

At the end f the show, after an encore of 7 songs including a ‘gratuitously arrogant two new songs in the encore” John said “I think this is the first time I’ve played here when it hasn’t been cold as shit. I like it. We’ll have to do it more often.” Yes, you will John.

Concert buddy Ror has wanted to hear Pale Green Things, a quiet intense song, that John Stopped playing because the crowd got unruly. Well, I will say that a couple of times tonight, the songs got very quiet and the crowd didn’t peep. No Pale Green Things, though.

OKay, I know the none of you who still read this shit are wondering, but in the middle of the show, it struck me how much we’ve missed, and how much we have to blame people who don’t give a shit about us, or about music, or bands or restaurants. and that against all odds, all of us, and the doctors and nurses and scientists and restaurants and musicians and artists and just plain normal fucking people have been working to figure out a way forward, and we have, while fucknozzles like Ron Johnson are still trying to convince us to take cow drugs in the face of an effective, free vaccine, widely available. Those assholes hate when we have joyous ebullient things like this that make our lives better and open up our souls. I have a magnet on our fridge, from the Museum of musical Instruments in Phoenix that says “Music is the Language of the Soul”.

On a final reveal, by the time they blazed into the iencore, and they played Up the Wolves, No Children, and the song I don’t think John Darnielle ever intended as the theme song for this decade, This Year, my face was streaming with tears of joy and righteous rage and what we had lost and are struggling to regain.


Go ahead, tell me how I fucked up this time.

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