Live: Modest Mouse, Disco Rodeo, 3/11/09

Photo: Pat Graham/Modest Mouse

I'm not going to say much here because I'm not really that qualified (I'm a bit of a Modest Mouse poseur, having only really gotten into the band when I reviewed their 2006 release We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank and not being that familiar with the back catalog) and didn't take notes.

That said, Isaac and Co. played a really fantastic concert last night in the face of adverse circumstances at Raleigh's Disco Rodeo. The knock on them has always been that they aren't a great live band, and I'd say their Greensboro Coliseum show in support of the disc in 2007 confirmed this. It was a great set, very balanced, high energy throughout. Modest Mouse came on quite late--well after 10--but played until 12:30 and then delivered a four-song encore.

I wish Johnny Marr had been up there with them (perhaps the pressure of Morrissey playing down the road at the DPAC was too much? Wikipedia told me he was still in the band, but he was not in evidence) but Isaac and Jim Fairchild did a great job on the guitars. There were several extended jams, and the discofying effect of two drummers makes the songs really thump along gloriously (for the record, though, these guys now have as many musicians as--and the same instrumentation as--the Allman Brothers, ferchrissake).

On the downside, the Rodeo is a terrible place. It works if you can get to the front, but I failed at that. It was a packed, suffocating, 100-degree, smoke-filled box as was, and it's a testament to the band's professionalism that they played so well. According to this fan forum (there's a setlist there too, for the interested) Isaac jumped off stage to break up a fight, but I'll be damned if I had any idea from where I was.

Still, the show was great, the encore especially: "Spitting Venom" (my fave off We Were Dead, with a weird jam)/"Float On"/"Baby Blue Sedan"/"Black Cadillacs." Worth the money I hesitantly spent on it, and then some.

We arrived late and missed the first opener. Second opener Mimicking Birds were pleasant--melodic and melancholy, a little reminscent of acoustic Neil Young. I might have been more impressed if not for the fact that the opener in Greensboro was Man Man... a band which will likely never be described as "pleasant."

Final note: Modest Mouse shows have the best people watching of anywhere. You get everything from middle-aged geezers to metalheads to dreadlocked pothead hippies to hipsters to pre-teens. Marvelous stuff.


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