Monday, July 19, 2010

Modest Mouse at the Pageant St. Louis

As I mentioned the other day, I went to Modest Mouse on Saturday night with Mr. IMo? and the P's. They were all excited and I was hoping to be converted to Modest Mouse fan-dom. I mean it seems like all the cool kids are liking them, so I must be missing something.

We skipped the opening band in lieu of going to the record store ( because we were dreading a sold-out show in mid-July. The body count was overwhelming and we didn't want to start dripping prematurely. I found some cool 45s and as a sign that Saturday's song of the day truly was "in the year 2525" I actually found it on 45 (though I did have to smooth talk it out of some kid's hands). Luckily, we took the side trip because Modest Mouse came on almost 30 minutes late. The stage was packed tighter than the venue with everything from 2 drum kits, an accordion, a squeezebox, various other percussion instruments and an electric cello we liked to call "chell-O!" and the crowd was getting feisty.

The band came out to huge applause and then Isaac Brock began to complain about the heat of just walking across the parking lot. The band then plowed through song after song, most of which were new and not particularly well received by the audience. The general murmur was everyone came to hear their old favorites and that this new album wasn't their best. I don't know if it was due to technical difficulties or acoustics but the vocals, which Modest Mouse is known for, were hidden behind a wall of sound. I found it unfortunate because the few songs I sort of like from MM are all because of the clever lyrics. Siren-style lighting blasting in your eyes like paparazzi flashes of light was also a complaint. It seemed an intentional cruel joke against the audience so that no one could get a decent picture. From the first few bars to the very end, lights were the only movement on stage, beyond the constant changing of instruments, leading to a very static performance.

Outside of the initial weather complaint there was no repartee with the crowd from Brock or anyone else, minus a mention about the sad looking beach ball sitting on stage. Rather than liven things up by throwing it back into the crowd it was just left sitting limp under the lights. That moment captured the essence of the show. What could have been engaging was left wilting under lethargy or apathy or both.

After blazing through their set like a practice session, they said a quick "that's all" and left the stage. Hoping for an encore the crowd held out, clapping, shouting, chanting for over 5 minutes. Where I stood people began to boo. There was a disappointed and offended bunch feeling betrayed by the poor performance. Eventually, the band came back but only half-heartedly to play two more songs, and prefaced his return badly.

Jim Fairchild, a fellow Modestoan, stood out as the only bright spot in the show. Off on stage left alone with his collar turned up, he seemed to want to do more but was an island of music unto himself.

I have only ever walked out on a show twice. This show ranked with those previous two in disrespect for the audience, bad stage presence and horrible acoustics. Had it not been for the people I was at the show with, I would have left.

There was a girl standing next to us who was a huge MM fan, and she had seen them perform in AZ and knew all their songs. By the end she was booing them, and as they left for the second time she gave them the finger and told them to "F" off.

Mr. IMo? and I were talking after the show and hit on the fact that some people see places like Boise, and St. Louis and other mid-sized towns as unimportant places they are just passing through, and don't really give their audiences the respect they deserve. This was an egregious offense, without thank yous to audience, or appreciation for the sold out show funding what looks like in Mr. IMo?'s words "an Oregon state work project" of 7-8 dudes on stage at a time. This was one of those crash and burn dates, there was no band love.

So, I guess Modest Mouse is going into the pile of bands everyone else likes but me.


Here is Brock with his lame excuse for the long wait before the encore...thanks youtube guy for the video and your backup vocals.

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