November 11, 2009

A Tale of Two Rock Shows


The Mountain Goats, Thursday, November 5, 2009 at Metro

The Mountain Goats played to a mostly packed crowd at Metro last Thursday. John Darnielle and the lineup consisting of bassist Peter Hughes and drummer Jon Wurster leaned copiously on last month’s release of The Life of the World To Come, a record tackling religion, specifically inspired by certain Bible verses. Heavy themes for sure, and maybe that’s why the record really hadn’t sunk in for most of the crowd – certainly less sing-a-longs than expected. That said, the show was immensely powerful, especially as Darnielle played several songs solo. He was chatty and engaged the audience on multiple occasions, often deflecting obscure song requests. The best moments came when his collaborators returned for classics like “No Children,” “This Year,” and at the very last minute, the stunning, sparkling “Going To Georgia”.


Art Brut, Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at Lincoln Hall

Art Brut took the stage with the shit-kicking “Formed A Band,” an easy (and awesome) set opener. Frontman Eddie Argos commands so much attention from the crowd it’s easy to forget that there’s a talented band behind him. Argos’s long winded ‘Where- is-this-going?’ storytelling and jumping into the crowd during “Modern Art,” was excellent, as it built into an exhilarating pit around the singer. Replacements references were abound, (the band couldn’t remember their song about the Replacements in Minneapolis the night before, and therefore, did not play it as a tribute to them) as well as Ian Catskillin’s “Bastards of Young,” tease at the beginning of their set. It was a total pleasure to get to see a band with such an outsized personality at such a small venue. Unfortunately, save for the front section, the rest of the crowd stood dazed and mostly unresponsive of guitarist Jasper Future’s efforts to get the crowd clapping.

Perhaps it was the location, Chicago’s brand new Lincoln Hall opened just three weeks ago. It’s a converted one screen movie theater that’s part bar and restaurant, and venue with a total capacity just over 500. Gorgeous woodwork, exposed brick and muted colors are a nice theme for the place, which put it a level above most Chicago venues. Perfect for the size of Art Brut’s audience, but still too small for Art Brut’s collective ego.