Tag Archives: John Darnielle

The Mountain Goats and Anonymous 4 bridge the centuries at Merkin Concert Hall

Anonymous four and John Darnielle, right, of the Mountain Goats at Merkin Concert Hall

UPDATE: Audio link to full concert added

Hear the full concert by clicking here.

Who knew John Darnielle had a secret wish to work with Anonymous 4, the a cappella quartet that specializes in music of the 12th through 15th centuries? The Ecstatic Music Festival, created by New Amsterdam RecordsJudd Greenstein, gave him a shot, and the result was Transcendental Youth, a song cycle presented Saturday,  March 24, at Merkin Concert Hall.

Darnielle, the writer and singer who performs as the Mountain Goats (and for this evening, he was the lone Goat) got the “why” question out of the way first.
As he was getting ready to finish college, his dad gave him a gift — a CD of A4’s 1993 An English Ladymass— an intense listen, he said, and one he returned to over and over as he coped with the more mundane stresses of completing two thesis papers (in English and Classics).

The Mountain Goats set list is after the jump.

John Darnielle (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

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The Extra Lens (John Darnielle & Franklin Bruno) and John Vanderslice at the Mercury Lounge

John Darnielle makes a point at The Mercury Lounge on Oct. 21, 2010. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Dan Mangan played, too

Once again, we missed Dan Mangan. The up-and-coming Canadian singer-songwriter opened the John Vanderslice-The Extra Lens early show at The Mercury Lounge on Thursday night, Oct. 21. But we arrived too late to hear him. This is the second or third show we’ve attended recently where Mangan finished his set before we arrived.

The Extra Lens

Luckily, though, we still got to talk to Dan Mangan. Well, the other Dan Mangan, who’s not a singer-songwriter at all (at least as far as we know), but a writer for the New York Post.

But there was little time to waste, as John Vanderslice had already taken the stage. Vanderslice did an all-too-short set of song from all parts of his fictional storytelling repertoire, charming the audience but failing to pass any baked goods or announce a dance party location. (When he headlines, Vanderslice typically has some form of home baked goods to distribute to the crowd and follows his set with a DJ dance party.)

The highlight of the evening was The Extra Lens (former The Extra Glenns), a band that sounds an awful lot like The Mountain Goats — mostly because the Goats’ frontman, John Darnielle, is half of the ensemble. The extremely talented and unassuming Franklin Bruno of Nothing Painted Blue is the other half. (Bruno is a visiting professor of philosophy at Bard College.)

Darnielle fixes the mic for Professor Bruno.

The Extra Lens rocked out with occasional help from Matt Houser, a drummer formerly with Palomar.

The only real downside to this is is the fact that it was part of the CMJ Music Marathon, so all the sets were way too short and the room to crowded — making it tough to get close enough for good photography without being a total jerk. Surprisingly, the audience was less chatty and more respectful than you sometimes find at CMJ shows and other showcases. That was a blessing.

John Vanderslice at The Mercury Lounge.

Free screening of The Mountain Goats movie — plus Q&A with John Darnielle

Jon Wurster, John Darnielle and Peter Hughes of The Mountain Goats. (Photo by Chrissy Piper)

Jon Wurster, John Darnielle and Peter Hughes of The Mountain Goats. (Photo by Chrissy Piper)

As an 8-year-old child, quirky Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle performed Bach minuets in a piano recital at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.

phpThumbA little while back, after his band finished recording their new album, The Life of the World to Come (out Oct. 6), the adult John returned to the piano in that very same Pomona College hall to play stripped-down versions of a few of the new songs and have them captured on film by Rian Johnson.

One thing led to another, and Rian kept the camera running while John played the entire album, start-to-finish. The resulting film, The Life of the World to Come: A Film by Rian Johnson, has its premiere this Sunday at NYC’s Housing Works, an organization committed to fighting AIDS and homelessness.HousingWorkslogo

Doors open at 5:45 pm on Sunday, Oct. 4, for the screening at 6, which is followed by a Q&A with John and Rian and a cocktail reception. Housing Works is at 126 Crosby St. in Manhattan. Admission is free; first-come, first-served.

If you want to check out full-band versions of the songs before you go, the entire album is streaming now on the Colbert Nation web site.

You can also catch the full band on tour later this year. The Mountain Goats, with opener Final Fantasy, are playing Manhattan’s Webster Hall on Dec. 1 and The Bell House in Brooklyn on Dec. 2.  The Bell House show is sold out, but tickets are still available for the Webster Hall show.