Modest Mouse – [Live]

Friday, 04 September 2009

Modest Mouse is one of those bands that capture the randomness of life while pulling out the ridiculousness and sometimes beautiful coincidences that really don’t make sense. Then they put it all together in high doses of imagery, confusion and cartoon-like song titles. Add crazy but sometimes calming vocals to it from Isaac Brock, and it seems like there is a hidden message from this band’s music. I still can’t figure out why their albums are so addicting. So after the recently released, No One's First and You're Next, I was intrigued to see them live again considering the last time was at Lollapalooza 2007, which isn’t necessarily an intimate space.

I first listened to MM in 2000 when The Moon & Antarctica appeared randomly in my possession. Fell in love with Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks in 2001 and always felt like they were a secret from the general public. Then when acclaimed Good News For People Who Love Bad News came out in 2004, they really gained the spotlight. Probably had something to do with catchy-as-hell radio pleaser, “Float On.” I felt like one of those lame music snobs that say, “Hey, I knew them before they were popular.” Did anyone else feel like that? Oh well, who cares.

The Aragon Ballroom is an interesting venue here in Chicago. It’s a cross between Medieval Times and Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Medieval Times because of the castle-like décor and Caesar’s because on the ceiling there are twinkling lights to look like stars and mural-like cosmos with planets and painted nebulas. There is a really random shiny disco ball in the center that looks ridiculously small compared to the hugeness of the room. Everyone knows that shows here are hot, sweaty and the sound is never amazing.

First song was “King Rat” off the new album, which is a really great single if you try not to imagine you just watched the video for it. The late Heath Ledger directed the video in response to illegal whaling happening around his homeland waters of Australia. The story goes that Brock and Ledger met in Australia and became fast friends after hanging out and tubing all day. If you want to see the music video, look it up; but it’s pretty graphic, twisted and sadistic. Not something to show the kiddies, even though it’s a cartoon.

From there, that set the tone of the rest of the concert. Very random. Most songs were not off the new album, which is good since the release is so new. We fans have to marinate on that for a little bit first. I was happy to hear “3rd Planet,” “Shit Luck,” “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes,” “Blame It on the Tetons,” “The View,” “Satin in a Coffin,” and played during the encore, “Paper Thin Walls.” For the most part, all the songs were from the middle days of Modest Mouse, not too early on in their career or very recent. I was kinda relieved to not hear “Float On” or “Fire it Up.” Most of their songs clock in at roughly three-minutes long, so they got to play 19 songs within the hour-and-a-half set.

The sold-out crowd was very arbitrary, too. You had the diehards in the middle and front waving and clapping their hands while sweating it out. Also, the new fans were there with their wish request of “Float On.” And then you had the people like me, a big fan but still can’t remember every single obscure song title for the life of me. Still, I was kinda confused as to why no one was dancing except for the diehards. Even though the sound generally sucks at the Aragon, you could still catch Issac’s vocals to be strong.

Lots of randomness ensued. But not the ironically-random-because-I’m-hipster type of random, more like the sense that everyone likes this band for different reasons. We can’t figure out why. Issac’s slight lisp and sometimes nonsensical muttering lyrics with a big band production gives everyone a reason to listen. The short songs change so quickly into something that was least expected and give insight into the unpredictable human nature with all its absurd details.


Related Article:
No One's First and You're Next – [Album Review]

“Satellite Skin” – [mp3]



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