Tag Archives: Angus Young

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A Sunday Sing-Along with the Mountain Goats at Brooklyn Steel

November 13th, 2017

The Mountain Goats – Brooklyn Steel – November 12, 2017


John Darnielle might be the hardest-working man in indie rock. This is not to say he comes from the same school as Bruce Springsteen—playing epic four-hour shows every night with sweat soaking through his American flag bandanna. But as the singer-songwriter of the beloved band the Mountain Goats, he’s consistently churned out a thoughtful and varied body of work at such a dependable pace that you might take him for granted. While other prolific artists may have a high volume of toss-away moments in their catalogs, Darnielle’s lyrics have always seemed intensely labored over and essential. Once called “America’s best non-hip-hop lyricist” by The New Yorker, he’s able to cover an impossible amount of ground from verse to verse, all while releasing albums with the band and somehow also managing to write two critically acclaimed novels. How about that for work ethic?

The band’s latest album, Goths, was released this year, and the Mountain Goats’ tour brought them to town for a packed show at Brooklyn Steel on Sunday night. The LP explores Darnielle’s early ’80s teen fascination with this genre in the same way that 2015’s Beat the Champ paid tribute to his heroes of professional wrestling. In pure Mountain Goats fashion: always sincere and never with irony. Mothers, out of Athens, Ga., opened the show with a brief yet powerful set. Afterward, fans roared as Darnielle and Co. walked onstage. Backed by longtime bassist Peter Hughes, multi-instrumentalist Matt Douglas and indie-rock drum royalty (and half of the comedy duo Scharpling & Wurster) Jon Wurster, the band leaned heavily on Goths, pulling off the new songs’ complex instrumentation with finesse. As this material is much more layered than the Mountain Goats’ usual bare-bones acoustic-punk material, Darnielle mostly stuck to playing the tunes on a Rhodes keyboard while Douglas would fill in the space with reverbed-out flourishes on either tenor sax or flute, eliciting huge crowd reactions in response. It was a thrill to watch the band gracefully pull off these new tunes live.

Some of the best moments of the night, however, were when Darnielle picked up his acoustic guitar to dust off some of the old sing-alongs from the band’s long career. Songs like “This Year” and “Against Pollution” had everyone at Brooklyn Steel singing in unison with Darnielle as he marched back and forth across the stage like an unplugged Angus Young. For the final number of their second encore, the Mountain Goats played a full-band version of the All Hail West Texas masterpiece “Best Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton,” with its rallying cry of “Hail Satan” filling the rafters and the hearts of everyone in the room. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

 

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The Sky Is the Limit

December 17th, 2012

Haim – Music Hall of Williamsburg – December 15, 2012


“This is the best birthday I will ever have in my life,” Alana Haim told Saturday’s sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg crowd. It was her 21st, and she still hadn’t had her first legal drink. Along with playing guitar and keys, she’s the baby of Haim. “I don’t think I could breathe without everyone on this stage,” she later revealed. “Everyone on this stage” included oldest sister Este (bass and vocals) and middle sister Danielle (lead guitar and vocals). And with drummer Dash Hutton, they played the best show I’ve seen all year.

Haim’s destiny seems almost preordained. Their parents (known as “Mama and Papa Haim” by the sisters) were both musicians—Mama played acoustic guitar and sang while Papa was a drummer. For 10 years, the Haim sisters played in a cover band, Rockinhaim, with their parents. This experience proved integral to their development as accomplished musicians in their own right. (Este studied Brazilian music and percussion at UCLA, and Danielle has toured with Jenny Lewis and Julian Casablancas.) And it brought them all so close together that, to this day, Haim still bring Mama and Papa on tour with them.

This grounding influence readily appears onstage in a couple of ways. First, they’re incredibly comfortable under the lights. Este, Danielle and Alana are witty, charming and hilarious, and they banter like friends entertaining guests. Second, their live show absolutely rocks. Their two outstanding EPs display a penchant for electro pop, and live, they seamlessly blend classic rock, ’80s pop, country and rockabilly. They’ve opened for such diverse acts as Mumford & Sons, Florence and the Machine and No Age. Danielle especially impresses on vocals and guitar. She channels her inner Melissa Etheridge and shreds on her Gibson SG, the iconic axe used by legendary lead guitar players like Angus Young and Derek Trucks. Although stylistically, she sounds more like David Gilmour, picking and choosing each note with deliberate care.

But in the end, it was Alana’s night. And before they played what happened to be their first ever encore, Mama handed Alana a cupcake lit by a leftover menorah candle, and the family led the crowd in a verse of “Happy Birthday.” “It’s officially Alanukah!” announced Mama. Alana closed her eyes for a few seconds to conjure a wish. And after she blew out the candles, the band became Rockinhaim, playing a stunning rendition of “Mustang Sally,” with Mama impressing on lead vocals and Papa banging a heavily funky beat. Though we’ll never know what it was, Alana’s wish will almost certainly comes true: For this band, the sky is the limit. —Alex Kapelman