The Mountain Goats brought ‘In League With Dragons’ to Brooklyn (review, setlist)
The Mountain Goats played Brooklyn Steel on Tuesday night, their New York debut of many tracks of their new release In League With Dragons. Singer-songwriter, author, and podcaster John Darnielle started The Mountain Goats in the ‘90s with just an acoustic guitar and a boombox, but over the years he expanded the band’s sound and lineup, and now — backed by Peter Hughes, Jon Wurster, and Matt Douglas — he’s supporting this new album which is a far cry from his earliest material.
Nearly half of Tuesday night’s set featured cuts from In League With Dragons, a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired record featuring fantasy settings and characters. It’s also an album, according to a conversation on the I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats podcast, about getting older (a term Darnielle prefers to avoid). He began the night with the album’s two opening tracks, “Done Bleeding” and “Younger,” and then took it way back to the lo-fi years with two songs from 2000’s The Coroner’s Gambit.
“The original studio take of ‘The Coroner’s Gambit’ was a fair bit faster,” Darnielle explained in one of his many insightful and charming on-stage anecdotes. “So we are gonna play it how it was meant to be played.”
The first full band set concluded with a rousing rendition of “Sax Rohmer #1” off 2008’s Heretic Pride, and then John — as he often does — did three songs solo, including the ’90s tape track “Going to Part Washington” which was a highlight of the night. When the band returned for the second full-band set, they came roaring back in on “Waylon Jennings Live,” one of my favorites off the new record, before launching into more In League with Dragons songs and old favorites “Cotton” and “Lion’s Teeth.”
“I’ve always liked the idea of a long encore,” Darnielle remarked after coming on stage for a final set, “maybe that’s just from going to too many Dead shows.”
And they did play a long, tremendous encore, full of songs from 2002’s Tallahassee, including “Have To Explode” (of which Darnielle said “if you have to push me, it’s my favorite track from that album”) and fan favorite “No Children” (which inspired a long anecdote of how the song was born from Darnielle’s hatred of Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance”). The set was supposed to end on the crowd’s “hail satan” chants of “The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton,” but time was not up. So what else is there to do but play one more?
A glorious sax solo and tremendous energy saw The Mountain Goats off stage with the unexpected, and seemingly unplanned, final song of the encore, “Spent Gladiator 2,” from Transcendental Youth. The band played until the very end, squeezing in as many songs from nearly three decades worth of material as the venue would allow. There aren’t many bands like The Mountain Goats and no two shows are alike. Even if you see them back to back nights, there will always be a new arrangement or an old track that you missed that makes you want to come back for that feeling of discovery of the new and love for the classics.
Openers have been varying on this tour, and the Brooklyn show was part of a run with Shana Cleveland of La Luz (who recently released her new solo album Night of the Worm Moon). See The Mountain Goats’ full setlist and some videos below…
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The Mountain Goats at Brooklyn Steel – 4/30/19 Setlist (via)
The Coroner’s Gambit
In League With Dragons
Sax Rohmer #1
Spilling Toward Alpha
Going to Port Washington
Maybe Sprout Wings
Waylon Jennings Live!
Clemency for the Wizard King
Cadaver Sniffing Dog
Have to Explode
Possum by Night
See America Right
Game Shows Touch Our Lives
The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton
Spent Gladiator 2