Monday, August 31, 2009

Modest Mouse, Live at the Aragon 8/25/09

Omg, yo. You know what I think about when I think about Places Parallel? I think of Lucy Ricardo, working at the candy factory, unable to keep up with the assembly line, stuffing chocolates in her cheeks like a squirrel. There is *so much shit* we have to cover from this summer: the last of the last NIN shows (until Trent and Mariqueen and their eight kids tour America like the Von Trapp family), which I know is the only thing you're really interested in reading about, but Iris and I feel compelled to cover Lollapalooza (which is like 50 concerts all in one) and anything else we happen to see because we are Places Parallel, and that is the sort of thing we set out to do here.

The problem is that in addition to the 150,000 words I have to write, we have TONS of awesome photos and video footage, and ideally we'd have both available at the same time, but the fact of the matter is, Iris and I are both very busy people living in two different states, so the coordination of all this material is difficult. And sadly, I am NOT spending all this time sucking Trent Reznor's physical cock, as alleged. Though I wish I were! I mean, honestly, is that supposed to be some sort of insult? I hope our Anonymi curse me with a lottery win as well!

Anyway, an easy show for me to cover is the recent Modest Mouse concert that I attended with Ro and Mr. Maise and another friend (name withheld to protect the innocent). I wasn't sure of the camera policy, so I have no AV goodies for you, and it was a short, shitty performance anyway.

I think what may be difficult for the Anonymi to grasp is that I am not a professional concert reviewer. I am not forced to attend all shows in my area, good and bad. I generally buy tickets for acts that I enjoy, so probably about 90% of the time, I enjoy what I see. If I get cranky and dissatisfied, it's usually in regard to whatever opening acts imposed upon us, the audience. So it's somewhat of a novelty to me to give a negative review to a show.

Not that I would give Modest Mouse a negative review in general. I love their pessimistic outlook paired with infectious melodies. No one sings, warbles, and roars quite like Isaac Brock, and what I think I love about this band is that they are distinctly American. This band is not trying to be the 10,000th rip-off of Joy Division. Their sound originates in dark pine forests and mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The songs acknowledge the dangerous wild places of the world and of our minds with a resigned shrug. It's like those frenzied seconds in the middle of a car accident, when you realize what's going on, recognize that you're flying through the windshield, and then you think, "Well, this is exactly what I expected would happen."

There is something very cathartic about giving in to Isaac Brock's passions, thinking about someone who has fucked you over by being absent and withholding, and singing, "Are you dead or are you sleeping? Are you dead or are you sleeping? Are you dead or are you sleeping? God, I sure hope you are dead." The only problem with this show was, was Isaac Brock dead or sleeping himself?

Modest Mouse was preceded onstage by The Duchess and the Duke, but I can't tell you a word about them because this show started at 6:30, and us hard-working 30-somethings who are stuck working in the burbs have to commute in and grab a bite to eat. In fact, Modest Mouse themselves took the stage earlier than we had anticipated (between 7:45-8 p.m.), so we missed the first song getting our tickets scanned and receiving the usual strip-search from venue staff. Here's the setlist (via the Modest Mouse website):

King Rat
3rd Planet
Black Cadillacs
Gravity Rides Everything
Shit Luck
Satellite Skin
Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes
Baby Blue Sedan
Life Like Weeds (Lyric Tease)
Guilty Cocker Spaniels
Blame It On The Tetons
Wild Packs Of Family Dogs
The View
Satin In A Coffin


Paper Thin Walls
Parting Of The Sensory

Well, it wasn't all bad. Highlights of the show for me included the following:
--"Shit Luck," a hard-hitting, bleak song that really wouldn't be out of place in Trent's catalogue;
--The radio-friendly (but not dumbed down) and energetic "Dashboard";

(credit must go to Rockerachick88 on YouTube for the video)

--"The View" which features this chorus, which will resonate with anyone who's lived through tough times, "As life gets longer, awful feels softer/Well it feels pretty soft to me/And if it takes shit to make bliss, then I feel pretty blissfully."

(credit must to go tkreuser on YouTube for the video)

--"Satin in a Coffin," the menacing chorus of which I quoted above

(credit must to go tkreuser on YouTube for the video)

--"Parting of the Sensory" with its unforgettable, hypnotic primal ending: "Well some day you will die somehow/And something's going to steal your carbon."

So looking at that list of highlights, it's going to be hard for me convey what exactly was wrong. I think the problem was not what was there, but what was missing. I've seen Modest Mouse twice before, and on those previous occasions, they had a lot more energy and verve. You know how at an awesome show, you totally lose yourself in the music and the joyful vibe of the crowd around you? Instead, my friends and I felt oddly disengaged. My friend, a true blue Modest Mouse fan *long* before I had ever heard of them, turned to me and asked me my opinion about tattoos during the proceedings. We just couldn't get in the zone.

Perhaps it had something to do with the inside temperature being somewhere around 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Perhaps the heat led to the concert's end time of 9:15p.m. A band of their caliber and extensive catalogue could have done a lot least throw us newbie fans a bone with "Float On" or something. Maybe if the show itself had been more intense, we wouldn't have felt let down. As it was, it felt like an hour of foreplay with nothing really happening. Should I blame it on the Tetons?


Anonymi said...

Good Review.

Anonymous said...

Nice review, Maise. Sometimes I love Modest Mouse, other times they bug the living shit out of me. It depends on my mood and the song.

Oh yeah, while I'm here, a little shameless self promotion and a not-so-subtle reminder: I just illustrated another haiku and my inbox looks a tad empty. *cough*

maise said...

Thanks, pleatherface! I'll do what I can re: Trent haikus!

Anonymous said...

Oh, man. This is a bit disappointing to read, since I plan to catch Modest Mouse in about two weeks, and not many bands come here.

I should explain: I just moved to Honolulu for grad school. I love it here, but as I said, few bands come here, so it's a bit of a bummer. You can imagine how big a deal a Modest Mouse show would be for me.

maise said...

Hi Em, you lucky lucky girl! Have you eaten at Puka Dog yet?

I would say, don't lose was probably just an off night for them. I've seen them before, and it was better. Don't know what was the deal with the short show, though.

Isabel said...

Modest Mouse did seem like they weren't particularly into it, but maybe the crowd sucked a bit (obviously not you!) ?

I'm looking forward to the Lolla review as I want to know how Depeche Mode are shaping up before I see them in December.
Did they play Just Can't Get Enough as I LOVE that song (esp the 12 inch mix) - it's one of the 80s things my husband and I agree on musically but I've seen them twice and they've never really done much of the old stuff, I get the impression they're trying to shrug that part of them off

Anonymous said...

Distinctly American - but what of Johnny Marr, eh? Hrm.

Summer 2009 was a bummer for everyone, sort of.

Hope DM turned it at Lolla, but I guess we'll never know.

I continue to send a lot of emails for work.

And you?

Anonymous said...

P.S. I was fortunate enough to catch a surprise/unannounced Dinosaur Jr show and dude, THOSE GUYS WERE ON FIRE.

P.P.S. My dream date, J Mascis, was also in attendance when I saw Mission of Burma...but I have a mega crush on the brainiac Bob Weston, so it was all like hard to decide who to crush on that night. ;O

ComaTherapy said...

Iris, I saw your photo again w/overweight Reznor in that uncool video by that twit LockeDown/Mickey Frklic. What were you thinking? Pull the NIN plug before it's too late. Stop blowing a junkie w/a ho who's never had a real job except in her mother's nail shop. He & Her are really losers compared to the people on this blog. THINK!

Isabel said...

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????WTF is anonymi on about???????????????????????????Who the fuck is LockeDown????

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen 500 Days of Summer? What's the significance of the scene with the Hall & Oates song ("You Make My Dreams")?