So this is what the volume knob’s for

Last weekend I finally made it to the Fillmore, a venue I’ve been wanting to go to for years (it didn’t disappoint: walls filled with vintage concert posters = I was in heaven!). I went with 4 friends to see the Mountain Goats, and left the show an enthusiastic fan.


I’ll go ahead and admit it right now, the first 5 minutes of the Mountain Goats’ set made me cry. John Darnielle began the show by paying homage to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that happened earlier that day. He questioned what someone like himself, a musician, could do to honor those children who will miss out on a lifetime of music and memories, and concluded that the best thing to do is play louder and more passionately than ever. He then opened with White Cedar:

Like a star come down to walk the Earth in radiant array.
I saw the light of my spirit descend the other day.
I was standing the bus stop on North East 33rd,
When I got the word.
I will be made a new creature,
One bright day.

I don’t have to be afraid.
Speed that day on it’s way.
And you can’t tell me what my spirit tells me isn’t true, can you?

Woke up on lockdown one more time,
My visions won’t ever learn.
But I see the light that much clearer,
Every time I return.
Forge my armor in the old fire.
My spirit sings loud and clear,
Even in here.

I’ll be reborn someday, someday,
If I wait long enough.

I don’t have to be afraid.
I don’t wanna be afraid.
And you can’t tell me what my spirit tells me isn’t true, can you?

The show was a wonderful mix of rockin’ anthems and beautifully exposed lyrics: a great chance for a newcomer like me to get acquainted with the extensive Mountain Goats catalog (did I mention how amazingly devoted tMG fans are? what an awesome crowd!). Also, John Darnielle is an excellent frontman. I loved his stories and perfectly timed punchlines. The show made me laugh, cry, and dance…what more could you ask for?

Some newfound favorites:
*San Bernardino – I love songs about places. Which is perfect, because there are tons of Mountain Goats songs about cities, towns, and driving. Yesssss.
*This Year – I listen to this at least once a day; lately it’s been more like 5 times a day.
*Cry for Judas
*Love Love Love

Shoutout to my friend Lauren for introducing me to this band! I hope this post will introduce a few more people to the awesomeness that is the Mountain Goats. :)


Not to turn this blog into an obituaries section, but I do feel the need to recognize two amazing artists we lost in the past two weeks.

Dave Brubeck, 91
Ravi Shankar, 92

The great thing is that these two lived such long and fruitful lives, and were able to share so much of their music with the world. When you think of it that way, it’s hard to be sad. Our lives are that much more enriched because of them.

I heard of Ravi Shankar’s death while in Oakland at a show. It was hard to believe – for me, his presence has always been near, whether through my tabla teacher’s stories (they toured together in the 90’s), through the music of the Beatles and George Harrison, or just the fact that for years he lived a few miles away from my hometown. I am so grateful to have seen him perform, and for the influence he’s had in my musical career.

Thank you Pandit, and thank you Mr. Brubeck, for making the world a better place. 

Amazing Journey, indeed

Last week I finished Pete Townshend’s autobiography “Who I Am,” which was a long and entertaining read. While I was reading the book, I kept thinking how much great material there was for a Pete-themed drinking game (ironic, given a lot of the subject matter). For example,

Take a drink:
*Every time you come across the words “auto-destruction”, “Impressionism”, or “visaging”
*Any time Pete goes on a tangent about his childhood
*Whenever Roger wants to get The Who back together and Pete isn’t interested
*For every groupie that John has
*Whenever Keith does something ridiculous (“While I made progress with my search for meaning, Keith was causing havoc with a birthday cake, a car, a swimming pool, a lamp and a young fan’s bloody head”)
*Whenever Pete cheats on his wife but he has such nice things to say about the girl he cheated on her with that somehow it seems ok
*Every time you turn the page during the “Acknowledgements” section

Take two drinks:
*Every time Pete drinks Remy Martin
*Every time Pete “quits drinking”
*Any time you think for a second that you understand Lifehouse
*Any time Pete agrees to do something, then backs out, then agrees again

In all seriousness though, this was a great read. I’ve always wanted to get a glimpse into Pete’s head, since he’s such an unconventional rockstar, and this was probably the closest I’ll ever get.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the Coda:

Play to the gods, or – if you prefer – to a small basket full of stuffed toys, or sing into the mouth of a hot-water bottle, or turn the knobs on a chest of drawers and pretend to be 20,000 leagues under the sea.  

It’s all the same thing. If in doubt, just play.