The Mountain Goats @ the Billiken Club — 2007.11.10

The Mountain Goats @ the Billiken Club -- 2007.11.10

Following the previous night's taser fiasco at the Girl Talk show, the more low-key stylings of John Darnielle and the Mountain Goats were a welcome change. Darnielle, joined by longtime collaborator Peter Hughes on bass and Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster, delivered his emphatically human narratives in a tight, cathartic set.

The set pulled most notably from Darnielle's most recent albums, 2006's Get Lonely and 2005's The Sunset Tree, as well as half a dozen of the prolific singer-songwriter's earlier albums. Highlights included “Love Love Love,” “Best Ever Death Metal Band,” and “Hast Though Considered the Tetrapod.”

The Mountain Goats @ the Billiken Club -- 2007.11.10

The Mountain Goats @ the Billiken Club -- 2007.11.10

The Mountain Goats @ the Billiken Club -- 2007.11.10

The Mountain Goats @ the Billiken Club -- 2007.11.10

The Mountain Goats @ the Billiken Club -- 2007.11.10

The Mountain Goats @ the Billiken Club -- 2007.11.10

The Mountain Goats @ the Billiken Club -- 2007.11.10

The Mountain Goats @ the Billiken Club -- 2007.11.10

Set List:

Wild Sage
Haste Thou Considered the Tetrapod
In the Craters on the Moon (new)
New Monster Avenue
Orange Ball of Hate
Love Love Love
Maybe Sprout Wings
Lions Teeth
The Coroner's Cambit
Love Craft

Houseguest (Franklin Bruno cover)*
Best Ever Death Metal Band

*Thanks to Mike for this!

As always, you can hit the Flickr for the full set.Shooting notes:

Packing in with the general admission crowd, there was no song limit and only sparse security for this event.

Much like the Gargoyle, the Billiken Club, is a small, student-run venue that offers features no photo pit. After the sparse turnout for the Twilight Sad last month, I didn't have any great expectations for the turnout, but the venue was surprisingly packed half an hour before the show started.

The unexpected crowd meant a little maneuvering for me as I made my way through to the front. To expedite the journey, I switched from the relatively petite Sigma 30/1.4 to the more intimidating Nikon 85/1.4 and, with camera in hand, made my way to the front of the stage without incident.

With John Darnielle taking stage-right to my position, I shot downstage for the Mountain Goats singer-songwriter. By contrast, bassist Peter Hughes positioned relatively close, though he tended to play near the side of the small stage and just barely in the field of the lights.


In a stark departure from the lighting of the Pageant, the Billiken Club's lighting setup is much closer to the stage and generally much dimmer, though a harsh character dominates due to the proximity.

The venue's lighting for the set was relatively simple, but abundant enough to use f/2.8 glass with moderate shutter speeds. While the Twilight Sad‘s set used only the red and yellow lights, the Mountain Goats received the full treatment of red, yellow, and blue lighting, though the warm tones dominated.

Exposure:In contrast to the Gargoyle on-going attempts to break the tedium of an essentially limited setup, the Billiken Club's lighting was constant throughout the set, which made for relatively easy metering.

With persistent lighting, the only changes that needed to be made were for the different relative zones of the stage, primarily for Darnielle, who stayed in the focus of the lights, and Hughes, who played on the fringes of the stage lighting.

Shooting at ISO 1600 for the entirety of the set, exposure for Darnielle was f/2.8 and 1/125 second, while Hughes was shot at f/2.8 and 1/80 second.


The Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 was the lens of the night, even with the mediocre lighting. The wide angle of the lens was especially useful for bassist Hughes, given his close proximity. Darnielle, on the other hand, benefitted from the slightly longer focal lengths.

The Nikon 85mm f/1.4 came into play for the tighter shots of Darnielle, though 55mm of the zoom lens proved quite useful for the few instances when the singer performed without his guitar.

My Camera DSLR and Lenses for Concert Photography

Nikon Z 7:
I use two Nikon Z 7 for my live music photography. A true do-it-all mirrorless camera with amazing AF, great speed and fantastic resolution.


Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8S:
The 24-70mm is my go-to lens. The range is ideal for stage front photography and the image quality is superb.


Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR:
A perfect pair to the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, I can basically shoot any job with the midrange and this lens. Superb image quality.


Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8:
Ultra-wide perspective, ridiculously sharp even wide open at f/2.8. I love using this lens up-close and personal, where it excels.

See My Full Kit for Concert Photography

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