October 10, 2017 @ The Strand
(f.k.a. Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel)
By: Juliette Paige
As I entered The Strand to see Modest Mouse, I was astonished by the crowd that packed the venue. It’s easy to forget the impact that Modest Mouse had in the alternative music scene. The crowd consisted of “angsty” middle school students in their Hot Topic band shirts to couples in their 70’s who were shamelessly rocking out to their favorite songs. Hopefully I’ll be like them one day.
I will admit that I was not the biggest Modest Mouse fan in the crowd, mainly due to the fact that the band formed and released some of their biggest hits before I was even born. However, I pride myself in my love for alternative rock and praise Modest Mouse for paving their own path in the Pacific Northwest’s rise of indie and alternative acts in the ’90s.
After an opening set by METZ, a Canadian punk rock band, the stage was prepared for the seven-piece band. The lights went out, and Modest Mouse nonchalantly entered the stage to a roaring audience. With a large array of instruments — the standard string instruments, plus two drums, a violin, an upright bass, and a collection of brass instruments — I was concerned for the acoustics in the venue. Despite the sheer number of instruments on stage, the band sounded great thanks to the renovations The Strand (formerly known as Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel) had recently made. The only downside to the acoustics was Isaac Brock’s lead vocals and commentary, which came out as indistinct mumbles. Brock has admitted that he mumbles in past interviews, but that excuse can only go so far, especially in live music.
Modest Mouse is known for frequently changing their playlist for each show, which can be hit or miss for both the casual listener and the die-hard fan. They opened their show with “The World At Large,” a song that discusses the disconnectedness a drifter may have with the world. Starting a concert with the lines “Ice age heat wave, can’t complain / If the world’s at large, why should I remain?” was a punch in the face reminder that Modest Mouse’s songs are introspective, deep, and uncomfortably true. The rawness in Brock’s voice that holds his past pains is audible. You could tell that he wants to run away and explore the world.
The band continued with “Sugar Boats,” “Never Ending Math Equation,” and “Dark Center of the Universe,” which all fall under the theme of never understanding the world and where we end up. A dark theme, yet it is extremely powerful to the die-hard fans who knew and could decipher the mumbled lyrics.
The band had minimal interaction with the audience, and very few comments were made by Brock between songs. This was made up by the phenomenal performances of “Lampshades on Fire,” “Bukowski,” and “Dashboard.” During these songs, both the new and old fans were screaming their hearts out. The intensity from both the band and the diverse audience was incredible.
The set closed with “The View,” a track off the album that brought Modest Mouse into the mainstream of alternative rock, Good News For People Who Love Bad News. Without any closing remarks, the band left the stage, the lights went out, and the audience roared and cried for an encore. As conversation arose around me, everyone predicted that Modest Mouse would come back and play their most famous song, “Float On.”
After another ten minutes, Modest Mouse had still not reappeared. The crowd was confused and many fans had started to leave. However, the lights were still out, and the tech crew was running around the stage fixing and tuning the instruments, so we knew it wasn’t the end. When the band finally returned to the stage, Isaac Brock said some words I couldn’t make out. I guessed he thanked the crowd for coming out to the concert.
They started their encore with “Parting of the Sensory” and “Fire It Up,” both of which were from their 2007 album We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank. Despite most of the crowd thinking the band was going to “Float On,” Modest Mouse surprised their fans when instead they continued their encore with “Black Cadillacs,” “The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box,” and ended with “Cowboy Dan.” That’s right. No “Float On.”
I see this as both a really cool and pretty disappointing move. As a band that has been around for two decades, they really can do whatever they want. They played songs from all of their albums, and I felt a huge wave of nostalgia from my youth when I began exploring alternative rock for the first time. However, when you make minimal crowd interaction and make your fans wait ten whole minutes for an encore, it’s best to give your audience what they want.
Overall, it was an incredible experience seeing these alt-rock legends perform live because they sounded great, and I felt fortunate to hear how their sound evolved and grew as a band. I’d recommend the show to all the die-hard fans regardless and to the casual listeners if they can get to a venue that allows for crystal clear vocals. After all, a night filled with nostalgic hits, a remarkable crowd, and some deep contemplative lyrics can be a much-needed escape once in awhile.
- World at Large
- Sugar Boats
- Never Ending Math Equation
- Dark Center of the Universe
- Missed the Boat
- Lampshades on Fire
- Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
- Talking Shit about a Pretty Sunset
- The Tortoise and the Tourist
- Satin In A Coffin
- 3rd Planet
- The Whale Song
- Custom Concern
- The View
- Parting of the Sensory
- Fire It Up
- Black Cadillacs
- The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box
- Cowboy Dan