“I’d hate to be shit in your cut,” but if you missed the Modest Mouse show at Civic NOLA this Monday, you made a big mistake. Or maybe it was just Shit Luck. Either way, Monday night entailed one of the best shows to hit the city this year. Before heading to Voodoo Fest 2015 to showcase the newly released Strangers to Ourselves album, Modest Mouse also played the Civic in 2014. Now it’s the second time they have sold out the venue, and this year it took less than a day. Slightly more seasoned, with a new record out, Isaac Brock and his iconic band once again stole the New Orleans young-adult population from their prior engagements for an evening of musical release.
The figurehead indie rock band from Issaquah, Washington has been together since 1992. Lead singer and primary songwriter, Isaac Brock is the only member to have consistently remained in the band. Although, drummer Jeremiah Green is an original member, having taken a year off in 2003. Growing with their music, the group started as a trio along with bassist Eric Judy, and is now an eight-piece ensemble stacked with multi-instrumentalists. At this point, they have ten former members, including Judy. Since their third album, The Moon & Antarctica, Modest Mouse has been making a huge impression on the indie music scene with a textured, yet digestible alternative rock sound accompanied by Brock’s dark wit and brilliant wordplay. They finally gained commercial success in 2004 with the album Good News for People Who Love Bad News and the hit single “Float On,” which frequently aired on MTV. The follow-up album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank kept listener attention with the single “Dashboard” and the brief addition of guitarist Johnny Marr of the Smiths. Now, the band has released the first album on Isaac Brock’s independent label Glacial Pace Records, and despite the rate at which they release records (the inspiration for the label’s name), their sound only improves and they show no signs of slowing down.
The opener on Monday night was a band from New York called Mass Gothic on Sub Pop Records. They finished an impressive 80’s-influenced set at 8:30, then Modest Mouse revealed themselves to a full-capacity crowd after discomforting them with the recorded sound of a bee swarm. The first song was “Cowboy Dan,” a clear indicator to the fans that old favorites would be heavily present in the setlist. They kept their unspoken word, playing a fully-satisfying balance of deep cuts and new bangers, including their two biggest songs, “Float On” and “Dashboard.” Of course, the crowd was loudest during their sentimental favorites such as “Grey Ice Water,” “Paper Thin Walls,” and “Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset” all of which were drawn out with a powerful live magic. Their style gets climactic, but is often brooding and relatable, full of black humor and introspection, addressing every emotion in the human experience. Their genre is fusion of beautiful charm and spiteful ugliness. On top of that, Isaac’s lyrics, full of oxymorons, twisted phrases and dismantled metaphors, are some of the best in music.
Isaac takes the opportunity once in a while between songs to tell the audience a useless anecdote or self-deprecating joke, and definitely gives an impression of bitterness. For example, it is well-known not to make song requests during a Modest Mouse show, as Brock will more than likely ignore it or, even worse, acknowledge the request and then play something else. After the final song, “Fly Trapped in a Jar,” the band came out for a four-song encore. Before the first tune, a patron in the front row yelled “Polar Opposites!” Isaac responded, “Oh, what a coincidence! That’s exactly what we’re about to play!” then proceeded to play “Night on the Sun,” another deep track executed heavily with passion. The show continued with “The Best Room” from the new record, followed by the second most popular track from Good News... “The World At Large.” Just when the fans felt like they could live in this concert forever, Brock and the gang gave a farewell with the song “A Different City” before they quietly made their way to one.