Goat Show Webster Hall How It’s Done

June 19th, 2014

Goat – Webster Hall – June 18, 2014

It’s said that time travel will never happen, because if it did, we’d already have met someone from the future here in the present. Well, I’m not so sure I didn’t see time travelers last night. The venue was Webster Hall, the band was Goat, supposedly from the nether regions of Sweden, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were from the not-too-distant future, but had come back to show us how it’s done. The collective took the stage dressed in their traditional full weird-is-right garb, which hides their faces completely, adding to the mystery. The music began with a boom da da boom of the drums, quickly followed by a dual-guitar chicka chicka chicka and then an explosion of na na na nas from the two singers as Goat quickly grabbed the audience with “Goatman.”

While the set drew largely from their superlative 2012 album, World Music, the live versions were engorged with heady jams and extended breakdowns. Each piece seemed to be a lesson in a new yet-to-be-discovered genre of music from the future. Early on, the sound was what I’d call interplanetary Afrobeat, rocket-fuel drums and congas whipped up the rhythmic guitar lines as the singers gyrated around the stage, adding maracas, tambourines and finger cymbals. Things spiraled quickly (whether it was up or down is all relative), the band a physics-defying perpetual-motion machine. One long instrumental jam with a nasty two-guitar-two-percussion jam was a magic carpet ride over the Styx river. “Run to Your Mama Now” introduced a new genre, Swedish death funk, equal parts light and good and dark and evil.

About 30 minutes into the set, things hit hyperspace, each song drawing out longer and longer, each moment rife with new styles. Goat went from Hobbit hippie jam, with noodling Middle Earth guitars, to dragon-slayer boogaloo, with a conga-heavy dance groove, to event-horizon roller disco, funked up with skull-crackling bass and dueling guitar riffs. All the while Goat were soaked in a pulsing light show that switched between psychedelic liquid bubbling and digital kaleidoscopic brainteasers. The crowd absorbed it all and grew in energy as the band did with plenty of body moving all across the room. The encore ended at peak chaotic kinetic energy, the singers pounding a bass drum stage center as they taught the audience about the yet-to-be-invented genre of face-melting magma music. Unfortunately, that was it for a pretty spectacular show. But, fortunately, the future is not too far away. —A. Stein