Thu 1 Jul – Modest Mouse, Avi Buffalo
Well. Modest Mouse. Where do I even begin with this. First of all, it's common knowledge that their setlists these days are slightly amiss. Not because they're playing all their bad songs, because that's certainly not the case. Rather, everything they play these days comes from Good News For People Who Love Bad News
, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
, and the occasional couple off their latest EP, No One's First and You're Next
. Naturally you're going to also hear a couple off of The Moon & Antarctica
, but those are very few and far between. Which sucks because if you know me you know I herald that album as one of the best things ever made.
So with that in mind you go in there with your expectations rather neutral. You know that the songs aren't going to be exactly what you want to hear, but that it's friggin Isaac Brock and everything he does is guaranteed to entertain. And I mean, I enter with wild fantasies of hearing Night on the Sun, which is my favorite song of theirs. Obviously not gonna happen. But either way, arrival was decent. 7:45 and we were positioned towards the back as Avi Buffalo came on.
Having never heard anything by Avi Buffalo in the past, I had no idea what to expect. Now, they're obviously nothing compared to the main act here, but I was pleased with what I heard. It's very melodic independent pop with a touch of psychedelia in there now and then, and I thought it was pretty decent. Wasn't anything I was going to write home about, but still, it was an entertaining way to start it off, and I definitely plan on least listening to the one album. At this point it was nearing 9, Avi Buffalo finished, so we decided to be daring and push our way down to the stairs. We were well aware that we pissed some people off, but we could obviously have not possibly cared less. So we were pretty close to the stage, in front of where Tom Peloso would appear later. The actual wait between Avi Buffalo and Modest Mouse was way too damn long. At approximately 9:30 though, it happened and this was what we were treated to:King RatThe ViewDashboardThis Devil's WorkdayHere's To NowBlame It On The TetonsFire It UpDance HallThe Whale SongHere It ComesGravity Rides EverythingTiny Cities Made of AshesBlack CadillacsSpitting Venom
LIKE A BOSS
Encore:The World at LargeInterstate 8Satin in a CoffinBury Me With It
I count 18 songs total. That's 2 older b-sides, 1 Ugly Casanova song, 2 from The Moon & Antarctica, 8 from Good News, 3 from We Were Dead, and 2 from No One's First And You're Next. A little off kilter, much? Towards the end we were even making jokes that it was back to 2005 during a Good News tour, with how much we heard from that album. But ah well, it was what it was and like I said, none of those songs are bad per se. As I review every song, keep in mind: I was surrounded the entire time by a rather powerful aroma of beer, which I would have loved to partake in had I not been responsible for driving later, but I digress.
King Rat was a very nice way of opening up the show. The Royal Oak Music Theatre is always a treat to behold in terms of lighting, and King Rat is of course a very dynamic song with lots of shifts between the manic and the calm, and the lighting that came with it really added a lot to it. And of course, it's also my favorite song from No One's First And You're Next so that always helps. What truly made my joyful, though, was the next song, The View. That's always been one of my favorites off of Good News too, both musically and lyrically. It was a really treat to see that live, plus getting the opportunity to dance with the whole crowd during the solo was something I'm not going to forget anytime soon. Granted, I was on the opposite side as Isaac, but that's all good because Peloso is always entertaining to watch.
So it got some momentum going early, though that was let down a bit later. Next up was Dashboard, which was decent, not the most memorable thing ever, but we all knew it was coming eventually, so what can I say. The melodic parts toward the middle were really something else live though, and almost put me into mind why Isaac choose Avi Buffalo to open for them. Next up, however, was The Devil's Workday which I didn't care for, and then an Ugly Casanova song in Here's To Now, which I didn't even recognize. I wasn't crazy about either, though they're both only about 2:30 long apiece. At this point, a short pause and then as the delicate sound of an acoustic guitar broke the upper end silence, the spotlight shone on Isaac.
Blame it on the Tetons afterwards, and we all decided that song was a little out of place, but seeing it live actually improved my opinion of the song. It was always one of my least favorites off Good News, but Isaac performed it live with so much more energy than he did in the studio, especially towards the ending, that I couldn't help but like it that much more. That being said, at this point we started making a commotion that spread even beyond our group, yelling at Isaac between each song: PLAY SOME OLD SHIT! Now, this was a chanting that occurred between every song. The next song, however, was Fire It Up, which is decent and has a groovy opening but I wasn't very ecstatic about. Isaac surprised us all by playing Dance Hall next, which is so bad it's hilarious in the studio, but just plain entertaining live. Dancing to that was just overwhelming, actually, and the melodic parts are actually a beautiful thing to behold in a situation like that. It was a fun thing to hear though, trust me.
Next up, The Whale Song. No surprises there, we all saw that coming, and you could just tell during it, how proud Isaac was of that song. He truly does consider it his masterpiece as of late, and while I wouldn't go that far, it is all good stuff. Next was a rarer b-side in Here It Comes, which I had only heard a couple times before and only left us pleading more for Isaac to play some older shit. But he granted us our wish and treated us to Gravity Rides Everything next. This was where the show really started to get better. I love that song in the studio anyway, but live it was... something else. It was just flat out fun to hear the entire crowd singing the chorus in unison, Isaac's voice was just even spot on than in the studio, and the song had a twist of funk in it that just made it transcendental to behold. It got even better from there.
Anyone who was with me will tell you that when Eric Judy played the bass line to Tiny Cities Made of Ashes, I became very, VERY happy. This song is famous for being one of the best things ever live, and I knew it, the crowd knew it, and Isaac Brock knew it. Now, the opening is always extended a lot to taunt the crowd a little bit, but when Isaac's vocals kicked in it made my day up to that point. It's a very groovy, fast paced song which is what makes it great live, but upon the explosion in the transition from quiet to loud, the lights went absolutely out of control, you could tell Isaac was truly having fun himself, and I started headbanging so wildly while focusing deep into the lights simultaneously that I almost passed out, but it was worth it. Bottom line, the song was incredible, the solo in the middle was great, and it was obviously extended well out with vocals on top of it. Absolutely brilliant. What wasn't brilliant was hearing Black Cadillacs next, which I've always liked in the studio, but live it actually really was out of place. But after another pause, it was all made up for.
What came next, you ask? Why, none other than one of my absolute favorites: Spitting Venom. THIS was the most I possibly could have hoped for, even though I was pulling for Night on the Sun the whole time, but Spitting Venom is actually played on a regular basis. I almost cried tears of joy at hearing it starting, but then when it got to the explosion where it becomes heavy, it was even better than the transitions in King Rat and Tiny Cities Made of Ashes. It was literally amazing, even though in that part, Isaac messed up the lyrics by singing, "You can say what you want but don't act like you care / It takes more than one person to decide what's fair" twice, but that line is brilliant so I could care less. Even better, after that, in transit between the song's two polar opposites, there was silence and then the stage was immersed in white light to the point where we could see nothing, but when the lights moved, the horns entered. Seeing this with my own eyes is one of the things I will remember forever because I probably actually did shed tears seeing that. It was outstanding, and even though the song didn't go into I Came as a Rat
like it usually does, that's no skin off my nose.
Transition from end to encore. Very long wait, but an intention buildup of tension. Upon return though, The World at Large. Good stuff. It can't communicate all of its studio emotion live like Spitting Venom can, but it was more "fun" to hear than I expected, especially with the whole crowd shouting "ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-baaaahhh" live with Isaac. After that, though, to my surprise, Interstate 8. That was really exciting to see, as that's always been one of my favorite obscure ones of theirs from the Long Drive days, and I was surprised how much of the crowd actually knew it. Half naked chicks swimming through a sea of arms to that song was definitely an addition to it.
After that, Satin in a Coffin. I expected that song in there, and it was pretty much what I expected. Fun song live as in the studio, nothing amazing, just good. Modest Mouse surprised me personally by playing four songs in the encore instead of three, and to close it off was Bury Me With It. I definitely have no complaints with that to close the entire experience, because I've been listening to it nonstop lately for whatever reason, and the guitar parts, while not as melodic as they could have been live, were still a brilliant way to end everything, and the chorus was awesome as always. It was actually one of the couple songs that didn't do more for me live than in the studio, but it's a difficult song to replicate so I can sympathize.
Overall, I give the concert a 8.5/10. Setlist was predictable and a little average as a whole, in fact I correctly predicted Dashboard and Black Cadillacs before they both came on, which is not something I want to be able to. No 3rd Planet or Parting of the Sensory was a bit disappointing too, not to mention no Float On was REALLY surprising. Hearing some guy say outside, "How about Bukowski, no way they're ever gonna play that shit" made me giggle. That, and the interaction between Isaac and the crowd was a little lacking, but still, Modest Mouse live is what it's become now, and they could be playing the phone book and it'd still be amazing. See this if you get the opportunity; if you harbor any fondness for their later stuff you will love it.