Show Review: The Mountain Goats with Final Fantasy at The Fillmore, 11/14/2009

by Pouria Yazdi on November 15, 2009


Just arrived from South Korea on November 14th and had not slept for over 30 hours; I was ripe for covering a concert. I headed to San Francisco from my East Bay hamlet, hoping not to fall asleep at the wheel.

The Fillmore being its usual cool venue self, is a great place to see a show. That being said, I was not so into the opener, Final Fantasy. Owen Pallett’s music can be best described as a cross between experimental-indie-emo. Loops and thought processes dominate the composition of the music. At times Pallett would be rubbing those violin strings so violently I thought he was trying to get a spark out of them. A majority of the crowd seemed into the music or at least were pretending to be into the music, probably to show others they’re into experimental music too.

The Mountain Goats were a vast contrast from Final Fantasy. The band itself sounded awesome live, even with John Darnielle professing to throat issues. I spent the first three songs in the front trying to get a good photo without using flash. Therefore I couldn’t tell you how those first three songs were. I can tell you trying to get to the front is hard and I had this one chick jumping all over the back of my shoes.

After my allotted photo time I retreated to a more comfortable area to do my reviewing. The crowd, comprising a lot of fans, clearly loved Darnielle. They ranged from diehard to the demanding. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a performer enjoy it when fans continuously shout requests throughout the show, but Darnielle at least seemed to take it all in stride.

The Mountain Goats controlled the crowd with ease as people overall were happy to be there. The set included all forms of The Mountain Goats: solo acoustic, solo piano, rock band, and collaborations with Pallett (which I enjoyed).

The appeal of The Mountain Goats comes from the unique lyrics. It’s almost as if Randy Newman wrote romanticized songs in an appealing indie style. Darnielle had a real storyteller persona by explaining inspirations for songs and joking around. He even took a few requests having the crowd fill in lyrics he couldn’t remember. Darnielle had great energy, was really gracious, and even played rarities like “Casetino’s Nursery.”

I’d have to say that I went into the show expecting my favorite parts were going to be the solo acoustic numbers, however the four piece band was where it was at. This was the kind of show I had to put my notebook away so that I could be part of the enjoyment going on around me. The Mountain Goats all had fun out there, played great, and put on a great show.

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