yesterday was a total fist-pump in the air while making a rebel-yell kind of day. i got to see the Mountain Goats in concert!
i had to drive 2 hours away to see them. i borrowed my parents’ gps which is geriatric as far as technology goes. then, for some reason, they had switched the measurement from miles to kilometers. what le fuck, do i look european? so i righted that. then apparently they had it set to avoid toll routes. i am driving through the set of deliverance…just creepy rural areas. at one point, i was on this tight, one lane road in east jehunga. i pass one of those ride-in battery powered toy vehicles that rich kids buy so their kids can get traumatic brain injuries in style. this one was a beat up barbie one…and it was purposely stood straight up against the fence post, like it had fallen out of the sky and landed smack dab on its grill up against the post. ok, a little creepy. i drive a little further & a little tyke’s trike is intentionally mounted on top of a fence post. oh ok, so this is how i die–always wondered how. i remembered that i had my brand new on-call phone in my bag–so i get it out & turn google maps on. it immediately tells me, “in 1.0 miles, turn right at leatherface waving his chainsaw at you” just kidding…it did tell me to turn around & go back to the route, like i had somehow gone rogue & wandered off the trail.
i did make it to the venue without further incident.
first off, the crowd was interesting. where we were standing, we were surrounded by hipstery douchebags. this just in: 9 out of 10 Mountain Goats fans in clifton park wear thick -framed ironically nerdy glasses & have a beard. the last 1 out of 10 has a fucking handlebar moustache. seriously. early on, standing next to us was a man we took to calling senor moustache. he had the deep side part in his hair, shaved on the sides, long on top…he had the thick glasses & wore a cardigan. he stood there minus the other 3 members of his barbershop quartet, but then he moved away from our brand of bullshit reallll quick. i watched him watch the opening act (dead ride) with his arms crossed in consternation…the Goats came out & he uncrossed his arms and put his pointer finger on his face, as though he were deep in thought in front of the pomade section trying to make the most important of all choices.
then there was a bunch of way older folks near us….they didn’t seem like the typical fan, but maybe when they heard the Mountain Goats were coming, they thought they were going to see a bunch of marginally cute 4 legged animals commit suicide jumping from mountainside to mountainside. and if any of that is true, my biggest regret in life will be that i never introduced myself to them. if any of you are reading this, i was the big girl in the dress with gold stars on it who twirled and announced, “look at all these stars! this fine, fat ass is a whole fucking solar systeeeeeeem!” (later if you saw me at market 32, i was jumping around in front of the beer section yelling, “wowee! this is way more choices than sophie ever had!” i am less proud of that joke.)
so…the opening act dead ride was pretty cool. the smell of marijuana filled the venue pretty quickly. i’m pretty sure the lead singer of the band was tripping balls. anyway, still not sure how to categorize their performance….the “out there” psychedelicness of the doors meets the anger of rage against the machine meets the “proggy-ness” of mars volta…i didn’t understand a lot of what was taking place on stage, but i could dig it. it was a lot of noise & angry gestures………just like having sex with me.
thennnnn….my beloved Goats. john darnielle came out looking a lot younger and spry than many of the 20-30somethings in the crowd. he was a complete maniac on stage…jumping around for a good portion of the show when he was on guitar. often broadly smiling, looking like a goofy kid who can’t believe this is his life. they played almost every single song i was dying to hear in concert. considering he has a huge repertoir and i like a lot of songs that are not the typical “hits,” it was almost ridiculously lucky. should have played the lotto. anyway, my favorite part of the night was to hear his stage banter–because he is a witty storyteller. he did get slightly agitated at one point in the night when he was talking and this one douchegut kept yelling “johhhhhn!” john darnielle actually stopped mid-sentence, said, “stop screaming john. thank you. i hate that.” good for you…that dude was annoying af.
anyway, when they finished their hour and a half set, they came back out & played another 7 songs or so. and then came back and did one more song.
as you may have gathered from other entries i have posted, despite all the joking, this year has been a maelstrom of loss and grief. at one point in october i actually started to write letters to people to say goodbye. luckily, at those points, i had friends that were holding onto me. the other thing that helped me was that I continued to register love for the paperweights in my life, those things that are heavy with meaning and provide ballast to us when we need it most. one of these paperweights for me is the Mountain Goats. i played their albums Sunset Tree & Tallahassee in heavy rotation, as i recognized my own feelings within the lyrics of these albums that dealt with topics like dysfunctional families, child abuse & the volatility of a relationship in breakdown. in particular, the chorus to their song This Year became my mantra.
when I saw the Goats were coming to clifton park in april, i immediately purchased tickets. this was back in november. grief has its own time zone & its own elongated increments for the passage of days—so that, back then, even making it from one day to the next sometimes seemed to be an impossible task made up of waiting out an interminable number of ticks on a clock stuck in slow-motion. that’s why my favorite moment of the night was when they played This Year as an encore number. because, to make it to april 21st & to be able to stand in a room packed full of strangers, all singing this anthem of survival at the top of our crazy, joyful, little lungs felt like a major victory in a year otherwise full of defeat.
i kept thinking about how this concert was something on the horizon that i focused on when things were getting dark . i would negotiate with this infernal suicidal machine just to get to april. and it worked. i made it. however, as the date got nearer, i kept thinking, “now what?” i see now i just have to go out and find more to love.
i am going to make it through this year, if it kills me…
never have i been more certain….