Modest Mouse – Capitol Theatre – August 5, 2014
A love for Modest Mouse is one that runs deep. My own unscientific assessment of this leads me to believe that an unusually high percentage of the band’s fans also have Modest Mouse tattoos. And at the earliest indicators that the group was about to take the Capital Theatre stage last night—as the road crew wrapped up tuning guitars, the house lights dimming—just about everyone in the building screamed at the top of their lungs. That screaming would carry on for the rest of the night. Most artists tend to see their muse as something external, but Isaac Brock’s seems to live in his belly. It’s as if he’d swallowed his muse whole many years ago, and it’s been trying to fight its way out ever since. It’s a battle that seems to take place as he performs: As “King Rat” began, Brock countered with his signature howls of “Well!” like the muse was acknowledging its creation.
It’s been five years since Modest Mouse have released new music, and while there were some new songs sprinkled into the two-hour set (previously played “Sugar Boats” and “Lampshades on Fire”), the night was mostly a nonstop Modest Mouse retrospective. With a touring band up to eight, possibly nine members, songs weren’t spared a single sonic embellishment. Some even ended up sounding more polished than when they were first recorded. With three people covering percussion, “Bukowski” took on an almost-marching-song tempo. An added string arrangement on “Cowboy Dan” made an already epic song that much more colossal.
The set featured practically the entirety of Good News for People Who Love Bad News, in addition to old favorites like “3rd Planet,” “Out of Gas” and “A Different City.” At about the moment when you might have thought, “Have they left any time for an encore?” the band left the stage but returned to play through six more, “Black Cadillacs,” “Wild Pack of Family Dogs,” “Broke,” “Paper Thin Walls,” “Fly Trapped in a Jar” and “Spitting Venom,” with hardly any breaks between them. With too many great songs to choose from, Modest Mouse did their damnedest to squeeze in as many as possible. How they’ll pull this off when a new album is added into the mix will certainly be a challenge, so better see them before it comes out. Or just see them then, too. A Modest Mouse love knows no bounds. —Dan Rickershauser