Mount Eerie: Elegies for emotional catharsis Concert review / 4.5 out of 5 stars

Joseph Molino, Editor In Chief

Sadness, as I have come to accept and realize, has become detrimental to my growth as a person.

Whenever I play songs on shuffle, I always skip sad songs. I have grown tired of anything associated with sadness; consuming anything sad ultimately makes me feel extremely small and helpless, duped by my own empathy. I have a problem dealing with my own sadness, and I try not to add onto it as much as I can.

Some people move on with their lives right away after listening to a sad tune, reading a sad book, or watching a sad movie, but it doesn’t work for me that way. I tend to get absorbed and become entrenched into any media I consume. Whenever it’s melancholic, tragic or both, the dreary, heavy feeling stays with me. This feeling lingers until it engulfs me, kick-starting an endless cycle that’s really hard to break. I close my eyes and my mind slowly drifts away into the middle of a sea of pitch black stupor. My body feels heavy and light at the same time, making me queasy. A knot forms in my stomach and it’s the only thing keeping me afloat.

That’s why experiencing Mount Eerie’s music live for the first time felt like a beam of brightness from a lighthouse— a signal of hope as the contours of a nearby shore becomes more visible.


Phil Elverum, under the pseudonym Mount Eerie, has been treading uncharted waters, too, of grief, despair and loss. His wife, Genevieve Castree Elverum, died only two months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She left him and their newborn daughter behind. The dread and sorrow of having to see the woman he promised to spend the rest of his life with wither into a hollow and lifeless corpse tore apart the very fabric of his existence. And his new album lays it out all for everyone to share.

Genevieve’s singing voice flooded the halls of their home–crashing against the walls, drowning him with the memories and dreams they shared together. Less than a year after her death, Phil Elverum returns with ‘A Crow Looked at Me’, an autobiographical chronicling of the months after her passing, written and recorded using her instruments. The looming nostalgia and longing to be with her again became the vessel for him to craft a haunting examination of personal loss.

“Death is real.”

These are the first words that came out of Phil Elverum’s mouth, as he somberly strums his acoustic guitar. Thalia Hall goes numbingly silent, as the spotlight warms the musician’s stature against the stark cold blue curtains in the background. The weight of the hall kept getting heavier as he recounts the events that transpired during that most dreaded day of his life. Opening with his first single, ’Real Death’, he repeats ‘My knees fail / My brain fails / Words fail’ in intervals of long pauses as the tempo of the song transitions between the creases of life and death. Like a beam of brightness, he bares his soul, unafraid to be seen at his most broken.

During this moment of clarity, when he enunciates ‘It’s dumb / I don’t want to learn anything from this”, I realize that sadness makes us human. Grief, despair, sorrow, and every shade in between them are part of living and I’ve been suppressing myself from fully experiencing the complexities of life. And as I was reveling in this newfound realization, he abruptly ends the song, whispering, “I love you.” Silence creeps up in the entire hall once again, and he lets out a long sigh. Reliving the details of his wife’s death every time he performs must take a  toll, but he courageously treaded on. With eloquence and painful honesty, he confronted himself and the loneliness that has ingrained its roots deep inside him.

By the time he performs my favorite track, ‘When I Take out the Garbage at Night’, audible sniffles and collective sighs started to echo in the room. The song tackles the disassociation people sometimes feel whenever they get lost doing the most menial chores in brutal realism.  He narrates becoming one with the universe every time he takes the garbage out at night, and for a brief moment, he forgets everything– the death of his wife, his life, his existence. A sense of peace resonates in his voice but the moment is fleeting as everything comes running back as soon as he walks back into the house, the dark window of the room where his wife died looming in his field of vision. Mount Eerie shows how these seemingly mundane, simple moments of routine suddenly become infused with profundity as death shatters every aspect of life, giving them new meaning. This willingness to bare it all makes him all the more relatable, his vulnerability offering solace to the collective human experience. The sad and tragic nature of his music is a reminder that suffering is inevitable in our lives, and however we choose to deal with it, no matter the outcome changes our perception of the world forever.

By performing these songs live over and over again, Elverum has managed to transform his music into a meditative process for healing not just for him, but for people who are going through similar situations in their own lives. He has been actively doing what I’ve been suppressing my entire life: confronting his fear and grief head on.

This is what makes his live performance a revelatory experience– one that has given me a newfound appreciation for life, a deeper understanding of sadness as I grasp the complexities of death and what it truly means to live. It’s OK to be sad as long as you don’t let it consume you. The tragedy Phil Elverum had to go through never stopped him from noticing the world; if anything, it seems to have pried his eyes open for good.