Megafaun feat. Justin Vernon, the Mountain Goats, Hiss Golden Messenger, Christy Smith and Kym Register
The Pinhook, Durham
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Photo by Ash Crowe
John Darnielle joins Megafaun for a Grateful Dead cover.
When it came to the set list, the second night of Megafaun’s two-show return to the stage at The Pinhook looked a lot like the first
. There were the band’s standards, plus the raging “Boomer’s Story” and the comforting “Ain’t No More Cane.” But what set the night apart was its guests players. Indeed, The Pinhook could have billed Wednesday’s show as “The Megafaun and Friends Variety Hour” and been accurate.
John Darnielle lent his voice to a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil,” while Bon Iver frontman and longtime Megafaun friend and associate Justin Vernon stepped up to the mic to sing Johnny Cash’s “Unchained.” Hiss Golden Messenger’s Mike Taylor offered assistance for Megafaun’s “Real Slow” and played “Mahogany Dread,” a track from his forthcoming Merge LP. The Tender Fruit’s Christy Smith joined later, harmonizing on “The Longest Day.”
Though the band played “His Robe” on Tuesday night, Wednesday’s version went in a different direction. Drummer Joe Westerlund left his kit completely (Matt McCaughan took it over) in order to cavort around the stage, hopping and scatting. And for the grand finale, the band unplugged and called upon Loamlands leader and Pinhook owner Kym Register to join in for “Worried Mind.” Phil Cook told the crowd to sing along if they knew the words; folks obliged. For those few minutes, everyone in the room, strangers or no, felt like one.
For all its little hiccups and goofy moments, Wednesday’s Pinhook set emphasized the extent to which the band isn’t just a band; rather, Megafaun is an institution of the Triangle’s music community, a friend and collaborator to many. As Taylor himself said before “Mahogany Dread,” life would be a lot different without Megafaun—and not nearly as fun.
Megafaun with John Darnielle (the Mountain Goats) & Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), "Friend of the Devil"
Megafaun with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), "Unchained"
Megafaun with MC Taylor (Hiss Golden Messenger), "Mahogany Dread"
Megafaun with Kym Register (Loamlands), "Worried Mind"