The Holiest of Holy Part III; Oh Holy Night!

The Holiest of Holy Part III

By the time the sun was setting delirium had set in. She had not just set in though, she had built a two story bungalow and began to raise a family of three little delirious children who were playing stick ball with what was left of my mind. I had one hour sleep within a 35 hour period at the point when I was waiting on the bus to go to the El Rey and witness the homecoming of my musical idol and hero John Darnielle. I tried to think of songs I wanted to here, I ran through the set list I had gleamed from the two previous shows off of the official Mountain Goats forum. I couldn’t focus, I could only think about how tired I was and how weak my legs felt. I wanted desperately for someone, anyone to be there with me so that I could lean on them and babble to. I felt like a madman fresh from the asylum and it was beginning to look like too much for one day. I solider on though, and after what felt like an eternity the 754 Metro arrived and I boarded. Soon I was at Vermont and Wilshire where I waited for another century before the 20 finally arrived and took me the long way down to the show. By then it was dark, I ducked into the Walgreens to buy a notepad so I could jot down the set list. I also grabbed some gum and a snickers bar to keep me awake. I couldn’t believe that I was here in the Gods home town and faltering. I summoned what little strength I had and made my way inside.

It's not the light PPH just glows like that!

I hate going to shows by myself, almost as much as I hate going to the movies by myself. This soul crushing solitude I am experiencing in Los Angeles is not for me. I am a social creature; I get along with people despite my judgmental attitude towards them. I need friends to talk to. I find myself striking up pointless conversations with strangers often (a process I once shunned). I am doing so much but with no one but the internet to share it with seem so pointless. I am alone in ways I haven’t been in years and it’s starting to get to me, eating away at my confidence and soul. I tried to push all this out of my head and focus on the sheer joy of seeing The Mountain Goats perform. I reach the bar and find that the price of beer is far more than your average establishment. A paltry PBR is six bucks and to drink the life giving Guinness would set me back $9! I opt for the PBR and make my way to right side of the stage. A position I seem to always take for some reason. I check my pocket recorder, and erase the necessary space on my phone for pics. Finally at least I will have proof of an adventure this day. Had I only known I could have had it with me the whole time the two previous reports would have had much better evidence of happening.

I know that taking constant pictures for blogs and Facebook seems trite and there is a certain backlash against such things these days, but if you drank as much as I do and have you would need constant photographic evidence that you did things as well. I don’t take a hundred pictures for you or anyone else, I don’t write all this down so that someone will read it and think how cool this guy must be I do this because I know there will come a time when my mind will fail me and I would like to know that I have done things, I need a back up for my memory that exist outside of paper which can be flammable or lost to time. This here digital journal is going to save me when the Alzheimer’s sets in and preserve the fact that I once existed. I know that sounds far-fetched but like I said you probably don’t imbibe the devils elixir as much as I do.

I staked out my position early before the first act even arrived but I was quickly usurped by a foursome of young kids, only one seemed aware of what he was about to witness. His companions were what I referred to as Neophytes. People vaguely familiar with a few TMG gems, but unknowing of the vast catalog that is closely reaching 1000 songs. They had no understanding of the fanatical following or that these shows features massive sing-a-longs. We are the congregation and the choir all in one, the faithful few, and we mean business.  From the start they seemed annoyed that I didn’t immediately move from behind them when they stepped in front of where I had set up. I didn’t mind as much because their bodies would hide the light from my recorder and I didn’t won’t to upset JD by taping the show, but I needed it, as I said my memory. If it wasn’t for the other shows that I and others have taped in the past so much of his classic stage banter would be lost to time. I have copies of every show I ever attended in Atlanta and I didn’t even make them myself. I have only actually recorded three of these myself, this being my forth; held for prosperity on the Internet Archive.

We all waited patiently through the opening act, who were in their own right quite good. A trio of young North Carolinians, called Midtown Dickens out doing the state proud. The group in from of me seemed less impressed their conversation afterwards annoyed the shit out of me, but I bit my tongue and awaited the reason we were all here. The time in between seemed to drag on. More so because I was so worn out from the Price Is Right than anything, but when the curtain drew back and the band began to slowly take the stage I felt a surge of energy that washed away any exhaustion I had. I came alive with the light of our savior and threw my hands into the air. My palms still sore from clapping like a seal at every little prize they drug out on the Price Is Right stage, I slapped my hands together despite the pain and found some power in my vocal cords left to scream with. Those around me were none too happy about this, I’m sure they wished I chosen to be down on the floor with the other screaming, singing young ones, but I was too old and they were too cool. I never understood people that come to these shows and want to stand around with their arms folded in judgment seemingly un-enthralled. Here is one of the greatest musicians you will ever see giving it his all for you and you just want to stand there! Get over yourself and rock the fuck out you boring sticking the muds. Perhaps I am a bit more excited than the average person sitting up away from the main floor, but I believe everyone should be rejoicing and feeling the power let loose on stage. This is magic people.


Liza Minnelli Forever
Broom People
Jeff David County Blues
Age of Kings
Birth of Serpents
Family Happiness
Tyler Lambert’s Grave
Woke Up New
Black Molly
You Were Cool
The Day The Aliens Came/Hawaiian Feeling
Damn These Vampires
Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into The Water, Triumph Of
Southwood Plantation Road
Prowl Great Cain
This Magic Moment
Never Quite Free
This Year

1st Encore
Going to Georgia
No Children
Boxcar (Jawbox cover)
The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton

2nd Encore
California Song

There are no words to describe how unbelievable this night was. Despite that the set was so close to the ones for the two previous nights, it didn’t matter. There was a special feeling in the air and his words rang so much more true being in the place where so many of these tales took place. Having seen so many of the street names only mentioned in lyrics before. I felt a new connection to the man, like when he moved to my home state and I to his, our fates crossed again. As he started “This Magic Moment” he looked right at me and pointed “Put your camera’s down” he said, “Let’s try to have a real special moment not one you record” I complied partially, I was still taping the audio. I’m sorry Johnny Boy but I gotta think of the future I don’t want to lose this moment. I think he will understand better now that he has confessed to listening to Grateful Dead bootlegs.

Watching the maestro prance about like a little pigeon toed school girl with no shoes or socks on was more than enough to imagine him becoming some far out hippie! He is already an earth loving vegetarian/vegan who does spectacular benefit shows for animal rescue farms. While I do not agree with his stance on not eating meat that does not stand in the way of my sheer awe at his powerful stage presence which has only expanded since I first saw him in 2000 and something at the Earl in East Atlanta. I have been blown away by this man every since and can hardly contain myself when he breaks out songs I’ve heard a thousand times just as if they were the first time I had heard them. Though this was the first for a few of the songs on the set list; I had never heard Black Molly live, Family Happiness, Minnesota, or Hawaiian Feeling (The Day the Aliens Came)! The real delight came in the encores where he broke out the classics like No Children and Going to Georgia and then led the crowd in a earth shattering rendition of The California Song, before breaking down into Blackwater by the Doobie Brothers sans microphone! I would have loved another encore, or to have heard Wizard Buys a Hat or Ethiopians, but I have long since gave up yelling out song request.  John is not a jukebox I once chided the crowd in Atlanta with.

As we filed out into the night it was as if we were all still transfixed hearing the songs echo through our collective minds. I saw several kids imitating his on stage dance as the crossed the streets and disappeared down side streets and into the shadows. I settled in at the closest bus stop and sifted through he pictures on my phone while I waited for half an hour for the bus to arrive. It was the final leg in my grand adventure, and the end the holiest of holy days in my lifetime. A crowded number 20 late at night filled with the most foul smelling homeless people and young equally tired kitchen workers making their way across Wilshire to their homes. A small fight almost broke out between a Mexican Skate Boarder and a toothless racist homeless man that was uncalled for considering the tightly packed ride. Eventually I survived long enough to hop out at Vermont and wait another twenty minutes for the 204 to bring me back to where I’m staying. I lasted another hour before I blacked out and slept for 9 hours. I could have used a little more sleep but I had to get up and begin to try and transcribe all that I had experienced before the memories left me when I pissed out the whiskey I began swilling immediately upon rising.

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