Goat is a strange and enigmatic group, a band of cultural nomads that seem to delight in mystery. Their arrival at Chicago’s Thalia Hall last Friday – to celebrate their album World Music – held a mystifying air, and was unsurprisingly marked by some unusual occurrences. It was Friday the 13th – the only one of the year – and there was a full moon that day, a huge disk that lit up the early morning sky. The next time that’ll happen – a full moon landing on a Friday the 13th – is in 2049. It was the perfect set-up for a band that in a word is: surreal.
If you know anything about Goat, it’s that you don’t know much at all. You don’t who they are, how old or what they look like – all their bios and interviews tend to read the same. At any given moment though, it seems the entire make-up of the ensemble can change, a revolving door of members keeping them in a constant state of liquidation. It’s a labyrinth meant to divert the attention from the individual to the group and what it is they’re trying to accomplish on stage.
When Goat finally appeared, Thalia Hall was already simmering – from front to back all the way up to the balcony. Each member glided on stage one by one dressed like they had just stepped out of the pages of Dune, adorned in elaborate garb that hinted at a wild multicultural experience. The classical structure and beauty of Thalia Hall only enhanced the enticing visuals, setting the stage for the onslaught that was about to come. Goat, without introduction, licked their chops and erupted into “Goatman:” [LISTEN]
There were no cheeky interludes within thier set and they didn’t indulge in highfalutin banter like your prototypical band would – they just moved forward with a wave of psychedelic grooves at their back. It was relentless and alive, their energy seething from every pore. The lead songstresses moved and gyrated on stage like serpents occasionally pulling from a pile of miscellaneous percussion strewn about the ground – tambourines, zills and claves all at their disposal. They didn’t sing so much as they chanted and it made songs like “Disco Fever” glow with a certain cosmic radiance: [LISTEN]
Packed between the hypnotic chants were marathon jam sessions headlined by the drummer who amidst all the eye candy was the unsung hero of the show. He was a constant force and without his steady hand songs like “Run To Your Mama” wouldn’t have hit with such fervor. He handled his role with agility and grace, fearless and without a hint of hesitation. Had you placed the Earth’s core in front of him he’d likely take a swing at it just to see what sounds would come out: [LISTEN]
You know you’re at a good show when you look over and you see a blind man holding up his white cane in approval. If anybody knows what the hell is going on with Goat it’s that guy because for all the magic unfolding on stage it’s the sonic element, influenced by so many different genres – afrobeat, psych rock, funk, and soul among others – that speak to the heart of Goat. Through all that a righteousness pours out that makes their shows a complete experience, and on a night where so many strange happenings were going on in the night sky it all made perfect sense.