Modest Mouse tonight at Sokol Upstairs…

Category: Blog — @ 1:06 pm March 1, 2005

The big show tonight, Modest Mouse w/ Mason Jennings and Cass McCombs at Sokol Auditorium for a show that’s long been sold out. As mentioned earlier, I tried to interview Modest Mouse as support for this show, but was turned down by the publicist at Sony, who suggested that I do a live review instead. Fact is, our boy Isaac Brock rarely does interviews these days, and only for the big guys. For those looking for data, here’s my classic 1998 interview with Isaac, before the band signed to Sony (the trick, see, is to get them while they’re young). And below is a preview I wrote that appeared in this week’s edition of The Reader:

Whoda thunk upon hearing their early, weird stuff that Modest Mouse would be around long enough to either catch on or assimilate to Clear Channel acceptability? The trio of vocalist/guitarist Isaac Brock, bassist Eric Judy, and drummer Jeremiah Green started playing together in 1992 in the Seattle suburb of Issaquah, Washington, releasing their first single on Olympia’s K Records in 1994. A number of singles and an EP followed before they recorded their 70-minute debut, This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About on Up Records. The follow-up, ’97’s The Lonesome Crowded West, would be their first breakthrough, igniting a major-label bidding war that Sony Records would eventually win. Last year’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News was their second breakthrough, garnering immediate radio play and a spot on the Billboard top-20.

Despite the hype, the songs on Good News… fell somewhere in the middle between weird and catchy. The hits “Float On” and “Ocean Breathes Salty” would fit right in at your typical family barbecue, with its bouncing guitar lines and sing-along lyrics. But old-fashioned yellers like “Bury Me With It” and “Dance Hall,” hearken back to the band’s UP Records days, sounding like a weird morph of Primus, Talking Heads and a sideshow barker. But even here, there’s a sense of restraint, almost as if they think they’re getting too old to do weird stuff anymore. And maybe they are.

What to look forward to tonight? Well here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune review of Sunday night’s show. The summary: “The Seattle/Portland, Ore. group’s sold-out performance Sunday night at First Avenue in Minneapolis was, well, modest. Its lead singer, Isaac Brock, was, well mousy. And, all told, the 80-minute performance was largely underwhelming, much less satisfying than the group’s million-selling, Grammy-nominated, critically acclaimed CD.”

Hmm. Doesn’t sound too promising. How ’bout a review of last Wednesday’s show in St. Louis from the Washington University paper. The summary: “Aside from sporadic impassioned outbursts by Brock, the band members seemed reticent and unenthusiastic. And there was absolutely no interplay between the group and the audience, other than an obligatory ‘How you doin’ tonight?'”

Uh, oh…

Come on, they can’t all be negative reviews. Here’s one from Arizona Daily Wildcat. The summary: “Throughout the show, Brock (historically an unsteady live performer, a.k.a. drunk performer) conducted the band, including an additional percussionist and backup singer/upright bass player, with as much passion as he put into performing.”

There ya go! Apparently last week’s show in Kansas City lasted 100 minutes, so you’re in for a long night. It’s very unlikely that I’ll be attending this one. So instead of a review, look here tomorrow for a feature on Seattle’s United State of Electronica.

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