One or two reviews of The Mountain Goats‘ latest album, Beat the Champ, carry a somewhat surprised tone with the obligatory raised eyebrow: John Darnielle is a classic pro-wrestling fan? (That is to say, wrestling predating the WWE madness.) They never would have imagined Darnielle, an intellectual, insightful storyteller high in the ranks of indie favorites, would be so knowledgeable of such a lowbrow sport – or, so some might exclaim whilst looking down their noses.
Whatever, dude. The compelling narratives within Beat the Champ reach beyond the body slams and ringside drama, offering glimpses into various existential truths, soul-searching strains that anyone could be confronted with. And most interestingly, there’s this sense of optimism, not always defeat, amidst some of the jarring imagery. Darnielle gives human qualities to the men behind the masks.
The Mountain Goats are in Austin for a show tonight at ACL Live at the Moody Theater, 310 Willie Nelson Blvd. Pinkish Black starts out the night. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the music begins at 8 p.m. So recommended.
– Photography by D.L. Anderson.