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the Mountain Goats have come a long way to ‘Beat the Champ’

the Mountain GoatsPhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Misty Brewster //

the Mountain Goats with Blank Range //
The Fillmore – San Francisco
June 1st, 2015 //

The historic Fillmore kicked off June with a stunning performance by Blank Range, serving as the opening act for the Mountain Goats. The group approached the stage with a Grateful Dead-like swagger. The band members’ worn jeans told stories of late nights in Nashville, where the band originated, long rides on tour and now their first-ever performance in SF.

They opened with a warm melody that sounded like it had jumped off a psychedelic surf poster. The lead singer’s raspy voice rested nicely against the synthy smooth melody. This combination with an overlay of folk and classic rock makes Blank Range’s sound diverse and widely appealing, and the audience, which consisted of several age groups and tax brackets, took notice.

The crowd favorite for the night was “Roommate’s Girlfriend”, a heartfelt love song about a bromance lost to a lady love interest. Throughout their set, Blank Range kept the energy flowing and the tempo upbeat. Their enthusiasm for their SF debut was apparent, and those present loved every minute of it.

Blank Range


Blank Range

Before the Mountain Goats took the stage, the sold-out Fillmore was treated to perhaps the greatest WWE monologue of all time. The stage was still black when former pro wrestler Dusty Rhodes began his rant. An obvious nod to the band’s 2015 release Beat the Champ, a concept album about pro wrestling, the monologue spoke of hard times in America and Rhodes’ triumph over Ric Flair. Moreover, Rhodes’ tirade was a battle cry to overcome something bigger, and it was quite an appropriate intro in later watching bandleader John Darnielle and company perform.

the Mountain Goats are known for their quirky garage sound — a gritty one full of life and verve. Arguably, the sound fits the Mountain Goats. However, the live show at The Fillmore showed something different. There was depth, confidence and a sound that was extremely well-polished. The band played some of its older, more familiar songs and a lot of the new tracks off Beat the Champ. In doing so, it showcased how far it has come and how talented it is.

the Mountain Goats play with an unexpected, polished flair, even though their music is still charmingly unique and fun. Their live show had the energy one would expect from the band, which ended with two encores on this night, reminding us that the Mountain Goats have beaten the champ.

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