Back Home… (Bright Eyes / Mountain Goats Concert on July 28, 2011 Review)

30 Jul

I have a full keyboard at my disposal. I have an unlimited seltzer supply. I’m ready to begin trying to explain Thursday night.

Concert Review

When: July 28, 2011
Where: The Meadowbrook Pavilion in Gilford, New Hampshire
Set-up: Covered stage, assigned seats (I was in the 11th row), grassy hill in the back where general admission attendees could picnic

the Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats. I FREAKED out when I learned that this trio was going to be the opener for Bright Eyes. Normally I feel lucky to even know of show openers, let alone absolutely love them and have a long-term desperation to see them live. Two birds, one stone. It’s pretty rare for these guys to open, by now they can command a fair crowd as headliners- the band has been in existence as long as I have, and in those 19 years they’ve developed a devoted fan base (and rightfully so). I’m always amazed at how few people are seated and ready to go at the time first acts take the stage, that night I’d say the crowd was at about 60%. What we lacked in numbers, we definitely made up for in enthusiasm and clapping- I still have red marks on my palms to prove it.

the Mountain Goats Setlist:
1. Elijah
2. For Charles Bronson
3. Southwood Plantation Road
4. Birth of Serpents
5. Damn These Vampires
6. Song for Dennis Brown
7. Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into The Water, Triumph Of
(John led into this song by relaying a story about his stepfather, how even when he died he still annoyed the family and left them with problems, the energy was fantastic)
8. Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod?
9. Prowl Great Cain
10. San Bernardino
11. Old College Try
(before the song, John said “This is a song about a couple in love who need antidepressants.”- to which a lovely heckler in the audience replied “All of us!”)
12. No Children
(loved the bass line)
13. This Year
(John closed by saying “It has been a massive pleasure playing music for you.” I loved that. The phrasing of his sentence reminded me of that Bruce Springsteen lyric (I think it’s a Springsteen, and I think it’s a lyric…) “home is the most excellent place” haha.)

the Mountain Goats Comments:

The drummer. I could have sworn that every time I looked in his direction he was banging his drums with a different blunt object. He started off with long brushes, then switched to conventional sticks, and lastly felt-covered mallets. Also of note, the way he held his sticks. I thought that normally drummers held their sticks like this:

The Mountain Goats aren’t ones to do anything conventionally, though, and I suppose that extends to the drummer’s grip, as he held the sticks like this:

How he drums so quickly like that, I do not know- but he gets results so to him I say keep on keepin’ on. Turn your gaze to his left, and there’s a more than even chance that you’d see John hopping. He really missed the mark in naming his band, something in the hare family would have been much more appropriate. All guitarists have their signature ways of playing, whether it be stick straight and barely moving a muscle, going with some head bobbing, what-have-you. For John, it’s hopping when a big guitar movement comes up. What fun. And that little bit of whimsey goes perfectly with his smile- oh that smile. He does this thing where he kind of smiles to himself, looks out into the crowd, and finds someone to lock smiles with. It’s lovely. He has this kind of “awww shucks” smile, sweet and infectious.

Bright Eyes

Hearing Conor Oberst’s voice in person for the first time, without exaggeration it was nothing short of a religious experience. It’s one thing to listen to a CD (I first started listening to Bright Eyes back in the good old days, when my boombox was still by listening device of choice) on repeat in my room for years on end, and it’s a pilgrimage, a slice of mecca, to have the guy who wrote the lyrics I love with my whole heart right. in. front. of. me. Singing, for me, and a couple thousand other people, but mostly me.

I love when artists talk between songs, whether it be stream-of-consciousness musings, stories, or best of all, inspirations/background about the songs they’re going to sing. That’s not even included on the deluxe edition vinyl. Before “Take It Easy (Love Nothing)”, Conor explained that this is a song about losing your virginity to an older woman. Oh. Or before “When The Brakeman Turns My Way”, he mused that this may be an outdated song, how people don’t really use trains to go across the country anymore. But, he continued, retro is what’s in now, so onwards we go. That was the song I most wanted to hear, that means the most to me, that melted my heart, that even as I’m typing I can picture in my mind- Conor in profile at the piano, doing what he does best.

Going into the concert I was totally prepared for a few tears, but laughs- not so much. But oh my gosh, how Conor spun! Going back to signature moves, Conor’s is spinning. He’d go in for a big strum and then go all dreidel on that stage. Yes, please. Oh, and there was that one time when Conor tried to stand on an amp at the front of the stage and took a nose dive, but we don’t talk about that much. ;)

The crowed stayed pretty tame for most of the concert, there was whooping and hollering, but seats were mostly sat in. That is, they were sat in until the encore when the masses flooded the front of the stage towards our magnet. He outstretched his arms and boy was there a positive response. A positive response that included my. touching. his. hand. I touched my idol. All of my senses were satisfied this evening: touch, sight, hearing, smell of a warm summer’s night, tasting success.

Bright Eyes Setlist:

The first encore turned out to be “Lua”, and the second was “Another Travelin’ Song”- I wonder when they actually made the call on which songs to choose…

Listen to Four Winds by Bright Eyes
Listen to One For You, One for Me by Bright Eyes

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