Modest Mouse | 11.14.07

Photo by Joanna Kleine. The band did little to rein in its musical explorations, but the extended jams felt more focused, and would often stop on a dime. A run through the hit single "Float On" was endearingly sloppy, yet the band still felt in total control throughout.

 

 

w/ Man Man and Love As Laughter

The Pageant, St. Louis

Photo by Joanna Kleine.

PHOTOS: Joanna Kleine. To view more photos of Modest Mouse, click here. To view photos of Man Man, click here.

 

 

Modest Mouse is a band that often sounds mere seconds away from total collapse. Maybe it was frontman Isaac Brock’s yelped vocal style, but this aspect seemed especially prevalent in "Bury Me With It," the blaring opener to the band’s recent sold out show at the Pageant. The song is a study in contrasts, with Brock’s howls of "Please! Bury me with it!" piercing through the otherwise mellow song at regular intervals. It was the set’s third song, "Dashboard," that removed all worries that the band might fall apart. Held in lock-step by the disco-esque dual drum attack of Jeremiah Green and Joe Plummer (playing on a double-sized drum kit that occupied the entire back-half of the stage and had room for a third drummer to occasionally join in), the super-catchy single from the band’s latest album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank seemed more and more sure-footed as it ticked along. By its end, the band felt comfortably locked into place, and every moment after was pure perfection.

 

The band held audience interest with a dynamic set that swung between loud and soft, between pure pop songs and more complex, headier numbers. The down-tempo, growling "Bukowski," led by a banjo-playing Brock, proved a perfect counterpoint when sandwiched between the chant-along party anthem "Fire It Up" and the ferociously rocking "We’ve Got Everything." "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes" rode a throbbing, almost Talking Heads-ish bassline from Eric Judy that contrasted nicely against the more guitar-driven Brit-pop of its follow-up "Here It Comes."

 

The crowd that night was abuzz as to how the addition of former Smiths guitarist and rock legend Johnny Marr would change the band’s live sound, and the answer, surprisingly, was not that much. And that’s not to downplay Marr’s playing, which was uniformly excellent (particularly on more upbeat numbers like "Paper Thin Walls"), but the sound was still indubitably Modest Mouse. The band did little to rein in its musical explorations, but the extended jams felt more focused, and would often stop on a dime. A run through the hit single "Float On" was endearingly sloppy, yet the band still felt in total control throughout.

 

The main set wrapped with "The View," the crowd excitedly singing along amid the din of Marr’s piercing guitar and the still-brutal double-drum attack. Having played all of their crowd-pleasers during the first set, the band chose to explore more unfamiliar territory for the encore by opening with the recent B-side "King Rat." Despite the lesser-known material and the lengthy wait for the encore to begin, the crowd’s spirits weren’t dampened one bit. After a second song (completely unknown to this reviewer), Brock began "Spitting Venom" accompanied only by his own guitar before the rest of the band exploded in behind him, leading into a lengthy jam that featured several instrumental breaks and even worked in portions of the older song "I Came As a Rat" before finally settling down to earth, leaving the eager crowd suitably happy and most definitely exhausted.

 

Packed in a tight circle at the center of a stage already occupied by Modest Mouse’s massive double-drumriser, openers Man Man put on one of the most preposterously energetic performances in recent memory. The basic setup was guitar, bass, drums, and two keyboards, but the band constantly shifted instruments and stage positions, slipping sax, trumpet, melodica, and about a dozen different forms of percussion into the mix. The resulting cacophony sounded a bit like five one-man bands playing on top of each other…and it was glorious. Man Man’s boozy groove didn’t get very many booties shaking (your reviewer counted a whopping six people dancing in the all-ages pit in front of the stage), but if the increasingly louder and more enthusiastic cheers were any indication, the band succeeded in winning over plenty of new fans with their high energy set. | Jason Green

 

Nearly complete Modest Mouse setlist:

Bury Me With It
Paper Thin Walls
Dashboard
Fire It Up
Bukowski
We’ve Got Everything
Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
Here It Comes
Broke
Satin in a Coffin
Fly Trapped In a Jar
Doin’ The Cockroach
Float On
Alone Down There
The View
——–
King Rat
[unsure]
Spitting Venom/I Came As a Rat

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