Live review: Modest Mouse @ the 1stBank CenterBy , Lisa Kennedy and Lisa Kennedy | July 13th, 2010 | 3 comments
Modest Mouse doesn’t seem like the sort of band who would play a venue that smells like chicken fingers and has the Rockies game playing on flat screens in the lobby.
Of course, the Portland, Ore., group is big enough to nearly fill a 6,500 capacity room, leaving little space that isn’t packed with shouting fans, but Modest Mouse’s raw edge is incongruent with $10 parking and a building that looks like an office complex.
Singer Isaac Brock seemed distinctly aware of this throughout the band’s hour and a half set. Although the musicians charged through a lengthy set, consisting of enough old numbers to satiate longtime fans, Brock appeared uncomfortable with the sterility of the room. “1stBank Center?” he asked the crowd at one point. “Like the first bank ever? What I got out of that is that anyone can start a bank. I’m starting a bank. I don’t have a plan besides keeping your money.”
Any discomfort the band felt, however, was tempered by the audience’s unabashed enthusiasm, which spurred the band to greater, more energetic moments throughout the set. After opening with “Satin in a Coffin” from “Good News for People Who Love Bad News,” Modest Mouse barreled through fan favorites like “Float On,” “Bukowski” (to the largest cheers of the night), “Doin’ the Cockroach” and newer hit “Parting of the Sensory.” Brock barely broke the flow to speak (excepting his bank tangent) and rarely did the fervor from the stage lull.
The only moment of downtime occurred between the set and the encore, when the band took nearly 15 minutes to return to the stage. Even though half the crowd left during that span, Brock and crew were able to regain their momentum for a four-song encore of “Fire It Up,” “This Devil’s Workday,” “Black Cadillacs” and “The Whale Song,” which evolved into a surging instrumental jam almost akin to a Mogwai number as the show concluded.
Despite the choice of venue and an ongoing problem with muffled vocals, Brock and his bandmates delivered a satisfying set that united younger fans with their older crowd, offering those who only recently discovered the band a taste of why Modest Mouse has such a devoted fanbase (the skill of their two drummers might have something to do with it).
It was proof that music can bridge a generation gap, although little did the 21-year-old sorority girls in the crowd know that it would have been ever better if the band had thrown “3rd Planet” onto their set list.
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Emily Zemler is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to Reverb. She also writes for Spin, Alternative Press, Relix and has a weekly column on MTV.com where she forces musicians to talk about books.
Joe McCabe is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb. Check out his website.