A Primitive Performance

John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice graced Donovan’s Pub with their presence on Thursday, March 26 as part of their “Gone Primitive” tour. On this tour, the group members aspire to freely play their acoustic guitars and get riled up in an attempt to get primitive and raw. In other words, the greatest desire of this Indie group is to get to the roots of our deepest inner thoughts. And so, during the exceptional performance, they even asked the Colgate audience if it felt like they were being primitive, despite the 20 voltage lighting that illuminated Donovan’s Pub.

The Mountain Goats first collaborated with John Vanderslice in 2004 on the album, entitled We Shall All Be Healed. This partnership flourished and Vanderslice continued to work with John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats. In 2008, Heretic Pride was released, furthering their fame. And so, the concert at Colgate University featured many popular older songs from these aforementioned albums as well as several new songs. This brilliant combination of old and new was probably the reason why Donovan’s Pub was absolutely packed on a Thursday night in March. This group was able to entertain the regulars as well as engage many new fans.

The fact that this concert was such a big success also had something to do with the nature of the music performed by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice. This Indie rock group focused on a type of storytelling in which all their music was about the lyrics and the content behind their words, although one could certainly tell the exceptional musical qualities of their songs as well. There was a great deal of substance behind their songs. The lyrics exhibited extreme sentiment, feelings and rampant passion. The songs were often autobiographical, about the pain or suffering they may have faced, whether literally or metaphorically. Thus, the music was very emotional and confessional in the sense that the audience could relate to the songs in a very personal manner.

The involvement of the audience in this concert was rather extraordinary. It was an intimate setting in which the audience was asked to come closer numerous times which provided for an extremely engaged and energetic crowd. Furthermore, the band members were hysterical and even asked if Donovan’s Pub served fries. Therefore, it was pretty clear that this Indie group had a comedic personality in addition to first-rate musical talent.

“In two songs, you guys are going to laugh like maniacs,” the acoustic geniuses said.

And so, The Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice offered the Colgate community more than just music, but rather an entire night of entertainment.

The song entitled “Angela” was my personal favorite. After the group belted out the line “hopped down Magnolia Boulevard,” they stopped and announced that they forgot the following lyrics. Soon enough, an audience member chimed in, “no way he’ll survive” and the music abruptly began again. Whether this was completely intentional or actually just a glitch, it added a lot to the performance by getting the audience to be livelier, more vivacious and more involved in the music that was being created right before their eyes. Thus, this concert was an overall success and certainly substantiated the claim that Donovan’s Pub is capable of becoming a new weekend hotspot, especially if “primitive” groups like The Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice are willing to perform there more often.