It's a rare thing to find yourself weeping in a roomful of strangers, focusing on another crying stranger onstage.
But since the death of Phil Elverum's wife, musician and illustrator Geneviève Castrée, in 2016, that sort of odd and moving shared spectacle is what Mount Eerie live performances have become.
It is perhaps too simplistic to look at this stage of Elverum's storied career as a crushingly sad, though brilliant, period—what's more triumphant than staring down unspeakable darkness and creating something for all to share and benefit from? If his last two records have been musical memoirs of a wholly personal and deeply tragic bereavement, Elverum's live shows have become exorcisms of grief and loss, for audience and performer alike.
The audience in Revolution Hall on March 29 was weeping for Elverum's loss, to be sure, but we were also weeping for ourselves. For friends and loves lost. For things left unsaid and chances never chanced. For our own soon-to-expire souls and the all-too-brief time we get on this plane. As I sat among a silent, utterly rapt audience trying to mute their tears and sniffles, the feeling was one more akin to that of a communal recognition of the two things that most define us as humans. That we are blessed, or perhaps cursed, with the knowledge that we will one day die. And that we can love. Phil Elverum's live performances, tear-stricken though they may be, stand as soul-stirring invocations about the brevity of life and love's ability to transcend darkness.
See Related: Nine Essential Mount Eerie Songs.
All photos by Sam Gehrke.