The Mountain Goats and Water Liars at the Gargoyle, 4/21/12: Review and Setlist

Categories: Show Reviews

mountain-goats-review.jpg
D.L. Anderson
The Mountain Goats | Water Liars
April 21, 2012
The Gargoyle

I'm just going to call it now: the most common response to this review will be "I didn't know the Mountain Goats played in St. Louis this weekend." John Darnielle and his crew flew in to play a one-off show on the closing night of Washington University's KWUR week at the Gargoyle. The campus venue has been maligned in the past for the Girl Talk tazing incident, the sober Hold Steady show, and the time These Arms Are Snakes had to play with the fire alarm blaring during its whole set. From the stage, Darnielle announced that people had expressed reservations to him about the room, saying things like, "Trust me, you don't want to play there." He said this in shock, having been impressed by the fact that during one of his quietest songs ("Dinu Lipatti's Bones"), he could have heard a pin drop.

From the other side of the stage, the reason for the silence was not so much a matter of mass respectfulness as poor attendance springing from the minimal amount of promotion done for the show. I don't want to harp on the venue too hard - they're kids, they're trying. But, generally speaking, when you book one of the greatest living songwriters, you tell some people. Make a Facebook event page (tacking it onto your KWUR Week event doesn't count). Put it on your website. The crowd was mostly students, a maximum of 80 strong. This puts the ratio of attendees to security guards around ten to one.

So, as with most shows at the Gargoyle, the success of the night stemmed on the performers' ability to transcend the room's inherent discomfort. Local opener Water Liars pulled it off nobly, their set of damaged folk no more awkward than an opening set should be. For as new as the band is, Water Liars is already a strong, developed live act. When prompted by an audience member to tell a joke between songs, singer Justin Kinkel-Schuster said, "I applied to this school. They didn't let me in. That's a fucking joke." Chuckles all around.

The Mountain Goats took the stage gently with "Wild Sage." John Darnielle has one of those voices that makes you melt the second he sings into a microphone, instant distinction and familiarity. The trio of Darnielle, lanky bassist Peter Hughes and lovable Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster appeared comfortable during its hour-ish set, with a certain level of endearing looseness throughout. Darnielle frequently strummed his acoustic-electric guitar harder and faster than necessary, as if he just wanted to rock soooooo badly.

With the exception of reworkings of "Jeff Davis County Blues" and "California Song," the group dug no further back into its discography than 2002's Tallahassee album, the first "full band" Mountain Goats record -- or at least the first that was not recorded into a Sony Walkman. An early peak was "Damn These Vampires," which Darnielle introduced by saying, "This is a song about how you get irritated when somebody tries to suck your blood." There are no more adequate words than "crazy eyes" to describe his expression when singing "Sleep like dead men / Wake up like dead men."


Location Info

Map

Gargoyle

6445 Forsyth Blvd, University City, MO

Category: Music

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10 comments
Bzgoling
Bzgoling

It wasn't promoted by the Gargoyle because it was part of KWUR week, and for some reason they don't put those shows on their site.  The two other KWUR shows I've seen there were the Wrens just after Meadowlands was released with crowd of about 50 and Man Man right after Six Demon Bag with about 30 in attendance. 

Kelsey W.
Kelsey W.

This review is as great as the Gargoyle's promotion is not -- and as that Choco Taco looked.

Oh
Oh

Mountain Goats played the Gargoyle back in fall 2006. The room was packed, which surprised me because I didn't know college students still listened to Mountain Goats, even back then.

Bunny Nguyen
Bunny Nguyen

What the fucking fuck, Wash U. PROMOTE YOUR SHIT. I would have paid $30 to see these guys. I had no idea. FUCK. 

Jason Carl
Jason Carl

 "I didn't know the Mountain Goats played in St. Louis this weekend."

Alissa Nelson
Alissa Nelson

I think that they've gotten more strict in recent years about releasing tickets to the public, which sucks. 

Dick Shits
Dick Shits

You would've wasted 30 perfectly good dollars.

Ryan Wasoba
Ryan Wasoba

Apparently there were only 75 public tickets available. I'm about 98% sure they were not all sold.

Alissa Nelson
Alissa Nelson

Ridiculous. This is the first tMG show I've ever skipped in 10+ years and it was 100% because of the venue.

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