After roughly three hours of hellish hallucinations, the combo of mescaline and mushrooms wore off minutes before Modest Mouse hit the stage. That was the first time I saw Modest Mouse, last year when they came to the Fillmore in Charlotte. The second time was this week at the Uptown Amphitheatre. Both nights I left thinking, “Man, what a great band.” Except this time, with zero drugs in my system, not an ounce of madness loomed over the night and I was there for one thing only: the music. It was raining on and off but thankfully it was a drizzle at the most throughout the concert. The weather didn’t bother me too much but perhaps it would have if I were there for a band I was less enthused to see. I was also excited to be seeing the show with my father, knowing he would appreciate Isaac Brock and his bandmates as a great live act.
Truth be told, I’m pretty biased to be writing this review. There isn’t an album by the band that I don’t like. I do prefer some periods of their career over other parts but they don’t have a single song I would object to hearing if you put it on. Modest Mouse is quite simply the only band I like enough to name a pet after. And also because naming a rodent Lana Del Rey wouldn’t make quite as much sense.
“Which song will they open with?” I wondered. “Strangers to Ourselves” was the answer, an odd choice to kick a show off with considering how downbeat it is. I would have started with more of a bang but they kept the live version of this new song short. Then Isaac Brock distorted his guitar and quickly went into a favorite among hardcore fans. “I was in Heaven, I was in Hell. I believe in neither but fear them as well.” This was the intro to “Doin’ the Cockroach,” from 1997’s The Lonesome Crowded West.
It should be said that there are two types of Modest Mouse songs and a true fan likes them both. They have their brooding tunes, songs which often feel like a somber existential soundtrack to space out to during a long drive, and then there are the songs you can dance to. Both flavors were on equal display throughout the night.
Personal highlights included performances of “Sugar Boats,” the maniacal “King Rat,” “The Devil’s Workday,” “Black Cadillacs and,” my favorite Modest song, “Parting of the Sensory” which gave Isaac some trouble. A string broke early on in the song so the band had to start over. No one seemed to mind. When they revved up to the song’s climactic “Someday you will die somehow and someone or something will steal your carbon” chorus with its gypsy rhythm, I noticed a large number of people dancing all around, not letting the dreary weather get them down. Modest kept this vibe going a bit longer, with Sugar Boats as their final number.
October 27, 2015 – Charlotte, NC set:
1. Strangers to Ourselves
2. Doin’ the Cockroach
3. Missed the Boat
5. Lampshades on Fire
6. Be Brave
7. Fire It Up
8. Jesus Christ Was an Only Child
[Some research revealed that this was the first time Modest has played this song since 2009. It was an impromptu moment. Not on the band’s actual set list, Isaac went into the song unexpectedly.]
9. Wild Pack of Family Dogs
10. King Rat
11. The Devil’s Workday
12. Out of Gas
13.Pups to Dust
14. Float On
15. Night on the Sun
17. Black Cadillacs
18. Satin in a Coffin
19. The Ground Walks, With Time In a Box
20. Heart Cooks Brain
21. Parting of the Sensory
*22. Sugar Boats [Another song not on the band’s planned set list. An audience member yelled out the request and it made for the perfect closer.]
*Here is a video edited by YouTuber “Modest Mouser” which shows how Sugar Boats syncs up perfectly with the 1930s animated short “Bimbo’s Initiation.”
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