by Holli Stephens
Besides a few scattered groups of older girls in long tribal skirts and bearded guys talking amongst themselves, Union Transfer was pretty sparsely populated when I got there at the supposed show starting time of 8:30pm. Goat was the headlining act and I can openly say that I’ve never experienced something quite as unique and powerful as this performance.
The internet recordings for opener Holy Wave do not do the band any justice. To see the spectacle of their layered sound and cosmic guitar distortion techniques, a person needs to see them live. An audience member gets transported back to the psychedelic rock bands of the 60s through Holy Wave’s use of instrumental jams and echoing group vocals.
The five-person band that includes members Kyle Hager, Dustin Zozaya, Julian Ruiz, Joey Cook, and Ryan Fuson played a short, but nonetheless true garage psych influenced set that included “Albuquerque Freakout” and “Do You Feel It”. The crowd was at just the right energy level for the mysterious Goat that was left to come.
Originally from the small town of Korpolombolo, Sweden, Goat’s “core” members began playing at a very young age. The twist in this seemingly ordinary etymology is that Goat’s hometown was known for its worship of voodoo and when the crusaders burned it for this practice, Korpolombolo became cursed. I found it helpful to know this little bit of information before hearing Goat play because of how emotional and extravagant their sound is. The day before the show I was told that Goat keeps their identities a secret and believes that they are more of an omniscient being and go by names like Dr. Goatface.
The band was comprised of a bassist, drummer, bongos, two electric guitars, and two female vocalists who dabbled on maracas, tambourines and cowbells. Only the eyes of the musicians were visible and all the band members were dressed in an array of costumes and masks; some were very gypsy inspired while others looked medieval. The vocalists both wore large feathered headdresses and full ornately decorated face masks and pranced around the stage when they were not belting out the unclear lyrics to their lone album, World Music.
A heavy drum solo lead into their first song, “Goatman”, that was full of crazy chord progressions, jams, abrupt changes in speed, and solos—basically everything that Goat’s world music encompasses. One of the female vocalists tried to speak out to the crowd, but the language gap was underestimated and many of audience members were left looking confused. Goat was silent after that, except for the 13-song set with a two-song encore that progressively got more aggressive and abstract.
“Golden Dawn”, “Let it Bleed”, “Goathead” and “Diarabi” were all songs that I was able to recognize, but for the most part it felt like Goat was doing a lot of improvisational sounds and playing the themes of recorded material before going into straight jam mode. Though a very small crowd, Goat fans are not afraid to express their love of the music. The majority of the audience was body thrashing until the last song and the rest had hands in the air fist pounding to the beat.
Before Goat left the stage, each member took a bow and illusively slipped behind the black curtain. My ears continued to hum of their trance music well into the night.