mousebutton.jpg

Click the photo to see an audio slideshow from the concert.
All photos By Laura Musselman. 

Modest Mouse
Date:
March 21, 2007
Venue: South Lake

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The Modest Mouse Machine

Isaac Brock doesn't need to cut himself to put on a great show.

mousebutton.jpg

Click the photo to see an audio slideshow from the concert.
All photos By Laura Musselman. 

Modest Mouse
Date:
March 21, 2007
Venue: South Lake Union Naval Reserve 

"Of all the bands that would ever have a radio hit, I never would have thought Modest Mouse would be one of them," said my buddy Matt. It's been said before, but it needed to be repeated. Modest Mouse is one weird fucking band.

Their set last night at the South Lake Union Naval Reserve (which feels like a big high school gymnasium), was, um, tight and professional. After years of seeing Mouse shows where the band was at least an hour late, and gear problems and tuning issues made for lengthy and boring breaks between songs, last night's show was more proof that the Mouse is now a smoothly functioning rock machine.

Drawing largely from Good News for People Who Love Bad News, The Moon & Antarctica, and their latest, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, the show felt like a hit factory. Whereas I recall a Showbox audience paying no attention when Isaac previewed songs from the then-forthcoming Good News, everybody now bounced along, screaming the words "We were done, done, done with all the fuck, fuck, fucking around!" Only one older song "Doin' the Cockroach" made the set, which was fine because at this point songs like "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes" (on which Brock gnawed on his guitar with his teeth) feel like classics.

Brock has one of the most commanding stage presences of any frontman I've seen. As one Rolling Stone writer put it, he's built like a Tonka truck. Every move he makes is weighted, but he carries an aura of childlike curiosity and innocence, which is amplified when his eyes widen maniacally during song climaxes.

Among the finest of the new numbers were "We've Got Everything" and "Little Motels", the latter the most affectionate and personal song Brock has written possibly since "Trailer Trash". Johnny Marr is indeed an anchor for the band, blending right in and harmonizing with Brock in a way I thought no one could. But I did have to wonder how many of the rowdy kids in the front rows knew who he was, and how significant.

Alas, no self-mutilation was involved in last night's performance. Brock was lively and funny, arrogant as a means of defense, and, from the looks of things backstage after the show, relatively sober. He chatted with family and friends, taking short drags from a cigarette. And when everything had wound down, Brock said he was going to go back to his motel room and watch a movie.

 
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