Monday 21:15, SWX, Bristol 19/10/16
[[originally posted on Epigram http://epigram.org.uk/music/2016/10/goat-swx-1910 ]]
With more cultural fusion than the pan-global buffet at Zsa Zsa’s Bazaar, Goat are in a league of their own. Natalie Pla catches a fleeting glimpse of mysterious world music supergroup as they turn SWX into a circus for one night only.
Earlier this month, Swedish fusion masterminds Goat released their third studio album Requiem. Judging by the title, and the penultimate track ‘Goodbye’, critics were left to speculate for themselves as to whether this would be the band’s farewell album, and thus this UK tour their last. Reading between the lines is something that seems to come hand in hand with the band, who have been shrouded (quite literally) in mystery since the release of their debut album ‘world music’ in 2012.
If you are familiar with the Goat, then it is likely that you have seen them touring the festival circuit over the past few years, playing everything from Glastonbury to Greenman to Field Day earlier this year.
At SWX, the big-top vibe was definitely felt. This was Syndicate like you had never seen it before… clusters of glittery trustafarians tripping on psychedelics dotted the former stomping ground of rugby lads and high-heel wearing socialites. The diehard Goat fans were also out in their masses, some with homemade outfits to match the performers’ on stage.
I should mention at this point, that the identity of Goat’s musicians is unknown, with all members opting to don somewhat culturally dubious garbs and elaborate masks so as to enrich the musical experience rather than detract from it.
One particular fan stood out from the crown brandishing her own totem (a goat skull on a stick made from white gaffa tape) and dressed in her own faux animal skin outfit. She looked as if she was expecting a Bacchic revel, pounding her thyrsus on the ground to the beat of the support act Josefin Öhrn And The Liberation in anticipation for the main event.
When Goat do finally come on stage, they ease the audience into the set by dipping in and out of their lighter, folkier tracks from Requiem such as ‘Union of Sun and Moon’ with its iconic vernal flute/ pan pipe before displaying their true fusion capabilities with the likes of ‘Goatfuzz’.
It is clear Goat have so much more to offer in a live setting than in recordings, with some of the jams only hinted at on the album lasting far longer in performance. The guitar riffs in ‘Goatfuzz’ in particular are greeted with furious head- banging from the crowd, and sound more reminiscent of Led Zep than the Afrobeat rhythms the band are famous for encapsulating.
Up next, music from their debut album ‘World Music’ is played, really creating a frenzied, hungry atmosphere within the audience. Gone are the soft pan pipes, which are replaced with the singers’ shrill yet perfectly intonated wails of ‘Let it bleed’ whilst the light display heightens the liminal aspect of this semi-spiritual experience.
The two singers perform dazzling synchronised routines with ribbons and sticks (not unlike the diehard fan’s totem, although with a touch more authenticity) at times forming a two- headed entity as they move together as a unit.
I notice that there is a lull in audience momentum at one stage, where one of the singers has raised her bangled arms above her head at the front, conducting the first few rows into some sort of stupor… are we transcending?
Next, Goat play what is arguably their most famous hit, ‘Run To Your Mama’, which has such rhythmic power that the djembe is doubled up with the guitar (the guitarist, by the way, is wearing a black phantom mask and a matching bucket hat) to mimic the driving sound of the Indian tabla, all interspersed with power chords.
After an encore with some hits from middle album ‘Commune’, the gig ends with the two singers leaving the stage, probably exhausted from leaping around and singing for an hour and a half. Finally, the attention focuses on the rest of the band who have a 10-minute jam to round the session off. Behind the vocals, you are reminded of the 60’s psychedelia that underpins the sound of this otherworldly outlet. An outstanding performance indeed.
(minus one point for not playing Diarabi and having to spend the first 10 mins getting to the front)