What is wrong with you? Does god hate you or something? Has he not taught you how to love?
March 17, 2012 12:08 PM   Subscribe

"It was hot as blazes as we tore through the south side, pulling up at lights all the people laughing at the white kids doing their little dance in the car." John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats performs 'The Sign,' by Ace of Base, interspersed with a story about the song and hand-signal dancing.
posted by kaibutsu (29 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
This made me so happy. Thank-you!
posted by bicyclefish at 12:13 PM on March 17, 2012

The Mountain Goats also have a live streaming concert next weekend!
posted by jason_steakums at 12:19 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh great, you told us th punchline in the post and now I have that damn song stuck in my head. *(%#$@!
posted by muckster at 12:41 PM on March 17, 2012

Man, if you've never seen them live, for the love of god do yourself a favor and go. Darnielle has the stage presence of ...well, of a fantastic entertainer. Outside of the Magnetic Fields, I've never actually enjoyed stage banter before.

Anyone know if the new album is going to be better than the last two? I really can't say I enjoyed either, which makes me sad because I skipped both tours.
posted by griphus at 12:46 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

If Ace of Base had done their version of the song in a car, with hand movements, driving through the South Side... no, people probably still wouldn't have taken them seriously as artists. I'd have dug it, though.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:56 PM on March 17, 2012

I really can't say I enjoyed either, which makes me sad because I skipped both tours.

Because you didn't like the albums? It's not like he's one of those artists who plays his whole new album because he wants to "shift units." I saw him last year (ironically at a benefit for Invisible Children(!!)), but anyway he didn't play one single song from "All Eternal's Deck" as far as I remember.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:07 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, I'd seen him twice before so I had an idea of his ratio of new stuff to old stuff and, eh. I'll probably go to the upcoming tour just because it's been a few years since I've seen him play.
posted by griphus at 1:13 PM on March 17, 2012

The black and white grainy telecine-like video really takes me back to 2007.
posted by birdherder at 1:37 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I adore that song, unashamedly and unironically.
posted by empath at 1:38 PM on March 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Thank you.
posted by Shebear at 1:41 PM on March 17, 2012

posted by ph00dz at 1:44 PM on March 17, 2012

I love the Mountain Goats but I guess that it would be funnier if I knew who Ace of Base was.
posted by octothorpe at 2:07 PM on March 17, 2012

Ace of Bass were a Eurodance group that basically encompassed the 90s incarnation of the genre. Here's the original version of The Sign.
posted by griphus at 2:15 PM on March 17, 2012

See also: The Real McCoy, Mr. President.

I spent a lot of time in Russian Restaurants in the 1990s.
posted by griphus at 2:18 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

All of the ZOOP recordings are up here. There was also a ZOOP II in 2009, which I was fortunate enough to be in attendance for.

By the way, Zoop was the name of a goat at The Farm Sanctuary. Zoop for some reason liked to head-butt your open palm, like she was giving you a high-five. Sadly, she died a few years back.
posted by deathpanels at 2:33 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this. I've seen the Mountain Goats a couple times and I agree that it is fun. Certainly helps if you know the songs, first, though.
posted by ghiacursed at 2:35 PM on March 17, 2012

Anyone know if the new album is going to be better than the last two? I really can't say I enjoyed either, which makes me sad because I skipped both tours.

I want to explain something to you. On the day when the last of the undead cyborgs lies in the wet red clay of the camouflaged pit that trapped him, and the smoke rising from his circuits indicates in vanishing Morse code that he truly was the last hominid to walk the surface of this late planet, that will technically be a lie, because there will still be three hominids left, and they'll be called the Mountain Goats, and they will still be touring.


I probably fall into that category of superfan that can't have any kind of critical perspective on them anymore, but I will restate my resounding disapproval of not liking anything John Darnielle does until the day my heart stops beating. For Charles Bronson is a great song, and anyone says that John's lyrics "got too weirdly Christian-rock" hasn't been paying attention – they've always been weirdly Christian-rock.
posted by deathpanels at 2:40 PM on March 17, 2012 [6 favorites]

Fun fact: At least one member of Ace of Base is a former neonazi.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:28 PM on March 17, 2012

...does that even out with the fact that one of the members of Army of Lovers was a gay, North African, Jewish hairdresser?
posted by griphus at 4:40 PM on March 17, 2012

deathpanels, to expand on that line of criticism you mentioned: because this is John Darnielle and so of course it's never that simple, it's not simply "weirdly Christian rock". From a few interviews around the time he released The Life of the World to Come, it sounds like he is fascinated with the bible and the whole religion, but says that he doesn't have the faith, so it's really written from the perspective of an expert outsider studying the culture, rather than a native. Which is actually pretty much the perspective everything he's done other than We Shall All Be Healed and The Sunset Tree came from, so really that album was business as usual.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:09 PM on March 17, 2012

It's a little hard for me to imagine how anyone seriously interpreted The Life of the World to Come as a Christian Rock album. Many of the songs are ironic commentaries on the Bible verses they refer to, and the ones that aren't function more as commentaries on individual verses than as statements of belief. It's the farthest thing from prostlyzation.
posted by Copronymus at 5:39 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, nobody bagged on Genesis 19:1-2 on Devil in the Shortwave or Transjordanian Blues from On Juhu Beach, the last verse of which is:

hosannah, hosannah, i am saved by the blood of the lamb.
one day when i was lost, he died on that cross,
and i am saved by the blood of the lamb.

So I just don't get that criticism. I think there's a valid point about recent Mountain Goats albums having less of a sense of humor*, and that being hard to adjust to, but the lol christian rock thing doesn't wash.

*High Hawk Season notwithstanding because that has a cowboy choir backing a song about The Warriors and that is hilariously awesome.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:16 PM on March 17, 2012

Dismissals of complaints about his themes notwithstanding, John Darnielle is a guy who fucking gets how to give a great show. He's always energetic and 100% committed, his patter is either illuminating or humorous if not both, and he clearly cares about the structure of the show in terms of what to play when. He plays the hits (I think he might have made some air quotes around that word when I saw him last, but fuck it, No Children is a hit) as well as some more obscure selections for the hardcore fans. Admittedly, I'm a pretty huge fanboy, but he's absolutely on my list of people to see whenever he's in town for whatever reason, because I know he's going to put on a good show. All the evidence you really need is in that video, where he totally kills it.
posted by Copronymus at 7:01 PM on March 17, 2012

Love love love. Thank you for this.
posted by sockomatic at 7:49 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

He is a god.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:51 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite concert-going experiences was seeing the Mountain Goats at the EARL in Atlanta back in 2004. He was touring with John Vanderslice and was about to head into Prairie Sun to record The Sunset Tree. Seeing them in the past, they'd always seemed to play it fast and loose with the setlist, but this show was particularly playful. John opened the show, not with a song, but by asking the audience if they'd heard that Jandek had played his first live show ever that weekend before easing into "It Froze Me."

Mountain Goats shows (around here, anyway) always bring with them choruses of shouted requests. John actually decided to honor a couple of them this time out--even teaching Peter how to play "Color In Your Cheeks" onstage. I always characterized Darnielle's onstage demeanor as that of a really good substitute teacher--he's engaging with the crowd, loose, but not above gently chiding them for acting up. At this show, he was halfway through explaining who Jandek is to those who didn't know when someone blurted out "DO GOLDEN BOY." John replies "We're not gonna do 'Golden Boy,' we don't know how to play it" without missing a beat. "I played it that one time I recorded it. You can scour the bootlegs man, I don't know how it goes!"

But the real treat was the end of the show when the John Vanderslice band joined them onstage for the show closers. Anchored by Dave Douglas' solid-as-a-rock drumming and lifted off the ground by Scott Solter's keyboard and sound manipulation, they one-upped the studio recordings. And they did so through two encores, which included a duet on Vanderslice's "I Miss The War" and a transcendent Furniture Huschle cover. And of course, the evening ended with a rousing, defiant take on "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out Of Denton." I don't know if you've ever stood in a room, surrounded by strangers, everyone gleefully shouting "HAIL SATAN" along to the music, but it's quite a sight. I'd seen the Mountain Goat several times before that and I've seen them numerous times since, but that remains my favorite show. And I had the foresight to bring a MiniDisk recorder and a little stereo mic and record it. Some other guy had the same idea. And thank god. This is a bootleg worth scouring.
posted by Maaik at 7:10 AM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

BTW, he does know Golden Boy. But don't be that guy.
posted by deathpanels at 8:06 AM on March 18, 2012

John likes surprising people, which is why he never takes requests (and claims not to know how to play the songs). Then he pulls out some obscure song from his second cassette that no one was expecting, and all of us old fans go bananas.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:07 AM on March 18, 2012

Also: the show tonight with Anonymous 4 was amazing.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:01 PM on March 24, 2012

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