October 21, 2012

Some moments last forever

“I think I’m the oldest person here,” I said to Boy-in-Black. The concert venue, a bar in Gorgeous City, seemed to be filled with students from two nearby colleges. He looked across the crowd, over the heads of a whole flock of girls who were giggling and whispering at his presence. “Nah,” he said, grinning. “There’s a guy at the bar who might be older.”

We’d arrived ten minutes before the doors opened, and I’d claimed a spot right up front, leaning against the stage, with Boy-in-Black right behind me. He’s tall enough to look right over the top of my head.

It’s the first time I’ve gone to a show with Boy-in-Black, and having him along was a definite advantage. He’s pretty intimidating. The crowd of young people were jostling each other, spilling drinks and pushing in closer as more people came in, but Boy-in-Black didn’t move so much as an inch in any direction. He stood absolutely still, arms folded like a security guard. Usually, by the end of a Mountain Goats concert, the whole crowd is pressing me against the edge of the stage, but not this time. Boy-in-Black served as a human shield that gave me plenty of room.

John Darnielle began with the song from Sunset Tree, an album released back in 2005. When he sang the first line into the microphone, “King Saul fell on his sword when it all went wrong,” I looked around the crowd and thought, “Most of these young people were in about sixth grade when that album was released.”

Darnielle paused for just a split second, and the whole crowd sang the next line, “And Joseph’s brother sold him down the river for a song.” Darnielle grinned as his own words came back to him. Somehow even those young college students knew the song. That’s when I knew it would be a great show.

Of course, the Mountain Goats are pretty much always a great show. John Darnielle is charming and humble, and filled with frantic, happy energy, even while he’s singing the dark poetry he’s famous for writing. He did nine songs from the new album that was just released, and the crowd knew those words too. And of course, when he sang old favourites like, “This Year,” everyone in the room jumped up and down, yelling out the words.

Afterwards, Boy-in-Black and I decided to go over to the merchandise table and see if we could talk to Darnielle. When I walked over, he said, “Hey, Front Row!” and gave me a hug. That’s the cool thing about Darnielle – he manages to make every single member of the audience feel like he’s cares that you’re there. I sat down next to him and said, “This kid who looks like my bodyguard is my son.” He laughed and said, “Wow. My son is only 18 months old, and yours is towering above us.”

We only talked for a few minutes, but I passed along a message from a friend, and we managed to take a bunch of ridiculous photos with Boy-in-Black’s phone. It was past midnight when Boy-in-Black and I walked out to my car. I rummaged through the car to find the chocolate bar I’d opened earlier, Boy-in-Black hooked up his iPod to play some Mountain Goats music, and we talked as we made the long drive home past barns and cornfields and little country towns.


Sass said...

Not only does this sound like an excellent time, I too have half eaten chocolate bars in my car. High five! :D

elswhere said...

...and some flare out with love, love, love. I do love this post. One day I hope to get to see the Mountain Goats live.

jo(e) said...

Sass: Ha! I knew I liked you.

jo(e) said...

Elsewhere: This was my fifth time seeing the Mountain Goats. I think that makes me officially a groupie.

Nik said...

I would like to see the Mountain Goats. You've inspired me to see if they'll stop in Flagstaff anytime soon.

Tom said...

Count me amongst them who'd love to see the Mountain Goats in concert.