DCxPC Live Vol. 5 The Goons Live At The Black Cat 2001
Washington D.C., United States
If you’re a fan of hard rock done fast and done right, then I have an album for you. The Goons have released a recording of their live set straight from The Black Cat and it's a belter of a live album. The sound stage is crisp and wide, you can hear every instrument played at full beans from every angle, the definition is not lost to the swamp of volume. The vocals cut through, harsh and clean like headlights down an icy night road. ‘The Goons Live at the Black Cat’ is a standout live album, performed and edited beautifully. Each heavy rock offering can be played as a single track even, many live albums get messy when not listened to in order. That is not the case here, the unkempt power of The Goons is brilliant always, in long or short form.
The set starts off with a simple intro into ‘White Tide’ a perfect opening song for a band with such acceleration. The Goons sound is thrown from the stage, it hits the back wall with enough power to bounce back into the frontman's face, but before it can connect another crash of sound is already coming it's way, and another and another. The smashing wave of angst and skill that ploughs from The Goons is captured beautifully in this live setting. It's rich, raw and tirelessly human. You want to jump in, get in that mosh pit and swirl, kick, slam. You’re sucked into the thick of it and it's engrossing.
The songs themselves are, awesome. It's a fast Nirvana. An uptime Soundgarden. The beats rile and roll against the bass (which, yes, you can hear every note of, a rarity for live albums in my experience) which in turn flutters against the guitars and vocals as they fight back the groove with crash after crash of melodic power. The vocals scream and catch the melody by the jaw, clipping it, sending it spinning into the street sprawling like a squid on skates. ‘RTD’, ‘I’m Alright’, ‘Nation In Distress’, ‘GI Bill’ and more, all explode with rhythms and instrumental harmonies that rival that of the big wigs. Against it all is the background hum of the crowd, they call and respond, they jeer and shout, singing along to the choruses and verses that have that Goon hook. To be there in the Black Cat while this performance was being belted would have been a godly performance to be sure, each song coming out faster than light and heavier than a white dwarf star, it's a miracle that anyone survived.
Though the album switches from song to song with quick clips, you do catch some of the personality of The Goons as the silence goes by. Some ‘Woo Hoo’s’ and some conversation are the perfect pallet cleanser for the melody-laden hard rock that shoots from the stage just seconds later. The silence never hangs around for long, the crowd want more and The Goons are gonna give it to them.
The album is fast, with 15 songs in a little under 30 minutes. That should give you an impression of the pace at which The Goons rip through the atmosphere. The set climbs to a height in the first one or two tracks, but with the band warmed up, they never come back down. Its exemplary playing and sustained vocal performance throughout push ‘The Goons Live at the Black Cat’ up there with the best and most definitive live albums I’ve ever heard. Many bands fall off the horse when heard live, crumbling beneath the lights with no protection from the absent studio walls. The Goons, however, thrive. The sound is beastly from ‘White Tide’ to ‘Ozone Alert’ and they never give it any slack. For a smashing good time, or for any grunge/hard-rock/punk lovers out there. The Goons captured the performance of a lifetime, distilled it and put it on ice.