the mountain goats [2007]

Bottom of the Hill
San Francisco, CA
9 March 2007

John Darnielle is a big dork. And everybody loves him. It’s like some kind of John Hughes dream sequence where the entire high school is jammed into the auditorium, pressing up against the stage, screaming wildly with adulation, as the biggest nerd in the school pours his heart out on an acoustic guitar.

But this is actually happening. Under the low ceilings of the Bottom of the Hill, mere days after the hipper-than-thou Noise Pop Festival rolled through. It really is something to behold: the crowd treats Darnielle like a god. A god that looks a whole lot like Crispin Glover. (And really, what’s so wrong with that?)

Darnielle certainly deserves much of this nerd love, with his witty, well-crafted lyrics and clever phrasing. And yet, the beauty of his songwriting is the simplicity of his words and the pure emotion that he can convey using such unassuming language.

Darnielle sings a lot about movement, about road trips, about going to places (without ever mentioning the arrivals), and this obsession with motion translates directly to the stage. The energy he brings to each and every show is truly infectious. This is incredibly clear, scanning the sold-out room, watching the adoring fans sing out the lyrics in unison. Other than the full bar, it could almost be a high school auditorium.