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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Modest Mouse Still Strong

Posted by Andrew R Tonry on Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 4:09 PM

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I've got to say, everything in Eric Grandy's recent Modest Mouse review proved to be absolutely right on. I reference it because even though I went to last night's sold-out Crystal Ballroom show—the final of four—I was sick as shit.

Really, I spent the whole day in bed. Should not have gone. Good God. And for any of those who may be now suffering of my Swine Flu, I apologize (except for that passive-aggressive dick who stood behind me, poking me with his fingers until I had to talk to him—I hope your eyeballs bleed).

But for all the snot and headache-y shit I suffered throughout the day, while Modest Mouse played, I was able to find comfortable solace. I even felt good.

Like Grandy, I've loved the band for over a decade now (jesus...). And while nothing will touch those days as a raucous three piece, a good part of that free-wheeling spirit prevailed. The band spun out large, extended improvs on a number of songs, most of which excited, except on "Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes" where Brock began improving up front, stripping away all momentum.

I was surprised with the set's depth and reach into the back catalog. A likely impartial list:

Never Ending Math Equation
Baby Blue Sedan
Paper Thin Walls
All Night Diner
Doin' The Cockroach
Night On The Sun
Gravity Rides Everything

Strangely enough—and actually kind of nice—there were no capitulations to recent singles like "Float On," "Satellite Skin," or "Ocean Breathes Salty." (But Jesus, I would've died for "Trucker's Atlas.")

With two drummers and a number of complementary players (six, all told), the band's ability for dynamic improvisation has diminished slightly—it's more of a steam-power chug, towing the original groove rather than really twisting it too radically. This happens with two drummers.

But Issac's free-styling is still just as vibrant as ever. And even if he never really found the greatest additives Wednesday night, he's still just as committed to shaking that tree. At one point Brock hopped down into the audience to continue his caterwauling solo, shouting occasionally into the distorted second mic. It was Brock's catharsis of the evening, one where hundreds of kids (and a few 30-somethings) had their own.

After an extended encore, which ended with a surprising, brooding version of "Parting of the Sensory,"—but only after about 10+ minutes of audience pestering—Brock got a haircut onstage, a fitting end to a long home-stand and the wrapping of a current tour, I suppose. Strange, yes, but Brockian as ever—the kind of thing he'll wonder why about later.

If any readers attended previous shows of the four-night run, I'm very curious what other songs filled out the sets. So by all means, share in the comments section.

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