An Evening with Mount Eerie – by WNTI Music Director Mitch Waddington
Death is real. These are the first lines sung by Phil Elverum on his record A Crow Looked At Me, under the name Mount Eerie. Elverum was inspired to write this album after his wife, Genevieve, passed away in 2016 from inoperable pancreatic cancer. A Crow Looked At Me is an incredibly deep insight into Elverum’s mind, manipulating the listener to feel the despair of losing someone so close. The follow up album to A Crow Looked At Me, titled Now Only, still centers around Genevieve’s death, yet focuses on how Elverum chooses to cope with the loss of his wife while also being a single father to an infant daughter.
On the car ride to New York City, I knew that this show would be significantly more different than those I usually attend. With such heavy lyrical content and simple yet entrancing acoustic melody, I was not fully sure what to expect. My mind continued to wander as I walked down the streets of Queens, until I arrived at The Knockdown Center. I had never been to this venue before. It seemed like a large empty warehouse. I was confronted by security, who informed me that the doors for the show had not opened yet, but I was free to check out the bar and art gallery that was connected to the venue. After enjoying some local art and a film I struggled to understand, I sat in the bar and waited patiently for the doors to open.
Upon sitting in this small and dimly lit bar, I noticed that there was a window behind the barkeep. This window peered directly into the room where the stage for the show was. Thanks to this window I was able to watch Mount Eerie do a soundcheck. He finished and came and sat in the bar right next to me. I decided to not draw attention by making it apparent to others that he was in the same bar as us. I did, however, get a chance to thank him for making the music that he makes when I purchased a vinyl record from him at his merch table. I took my seat and took in the atmosphere.
The stage was almost completely empty besides an acoustic guitar, a microphone stand, and a dead and dry Christmas tree. This tree served as a reminder of what Elverum has been trying to communicate with his past two albums; Death is real. Finally, Mount Eerie took the stage. He stood silently as he patiently waited for the venue to turn off their loud heater, then immediately started to play. There was no singing along, no dancing. The audience quietly listened to what Elverum had to communicate through his songs, only making noise to clap in between songs. He only played songs off of A Crow Looked At Me and Now Only, leaving no breaks to play his older and more lighthearted tunes. Elverum closed with “Crow, Pt. 2”, the final song off of Now Only. He thanked the audience, and quickly walked off stage. The emotions I had felt that night were like none other I had felt at any previous shows I have been to, which in turn is most likely what Elverum was trying to do.
Article written by WNTI Music Director Mitch Waddington