Recently Modest Mouse has been finding their way onto my turntable a lot so when I saw that they were playing just a few cities over I decided I had to score last minute tickets. I was able to find a pair for less than face value and got in with no trouble. Modest Mouse has received mixed reviews on their live performances throughout the years due to frontman Isaac Brock’s erratic behavior, but they were firing on all cylinders Friday. This was my first time at the House Of Blues in Anaheim. Previously located in Downtown Disney, it’s moved across the street from Disneyland. I really enjoyed the new location, it’s a very intimate venue that pulls impressive acts, although it’s really hard to see the stage if you aren’t to the right of the bell curve when it comes to height. Tiers on the floor would’ve helped alleviate this problem. Once Modest Mouse came on it was more or less forgotten, although I’m one that prefers to watch the band play over dancing or moshing.
Modest Mouse came on to the sound of swarming bees and instantly had the crowd hooked with “Missed The Boat”. They vary their setlist night to night so it’s hard to predict what you’ll hear, especially on this tour since it isn’t supporting an album. Strangers To Ourselves was released in 2015 and although a follow-up was expected the following year, there’s been no big news of one since. They dipped in and out of both their new, more polished material, as well as their ’90s classics that have withstood the test of time. They sped through the lead single from Strangers To Ourselves, “Lampshades On Fire”, right into The Lonesome Crowded West thrasher, “Doin’ The Cockroach”, and back to the classic from Good News For People Who Love Bad News, “Bukowski”, which probably got the most audience participation of the night. And no, they did not play “Float On”. They’re obviously not obliged to and as someone who owns a good chunk of their discography, I know they have plenty of material that surpasses it, but I was anticipating those opening chords all night. However, the set they did play was so good that I’m sure most of the crowd forgot about it by the end of the night.
Fans know that anytime you hear Isaac start yelling “well”, you’re in for a ride. The opening to “King Rat” took full advantage of that and was a highlight of the show. Isaac was in perfect form, as was the rest of the band. He brought a ton of energy through his guitar playing, yelled his way through several songs, and shared amusing anecdotes and comments throughout the set. Jeremiah Green’s unique drumming is of course an integral piece to their sound and violist, Lisa Molinaro, shone center-stage and sang backup on quite a few songs. The other member that kept drawing my attention was multi-instrumentalist Tom Peloso. A lot of Modest Mouse songs wouldn’t be the same without the horn section and he covered that in addition to keyboards, upright bass, and bass guitar. The entire band looked excited, energized, and happy to be touring, and I hope that energy translates into their next studio album.
The highlight of the set was the incredible six song encore that consisted of most of my favorites by them. They took a fairly long break between closing the main set with “The Good Times Are Killing Me” and ripping into the encore with “Dance Hall”, but it was more than worth the wait. It included the groove-heavy fan favorite, “Tiny City Made Of Ashes”, the deep cut, “Perfect Disguise”, and the infectious “Paper Thin Walls”, all from The Moon & Antarctica. They moved right into “The Ground Walks, With Time In A Box”, a dance-rock inspired single from Strangers To Ourselves. They closed the set with “Shit Luck”, easily one of the heaviest songs in their discography. It was the perfect way to end such a varied and high energy show.
As far as merch goes there was some fairly cool deigns. I didn’t see any shirts with tour dates on them, which was disappointing, but they had several really vibrant posters. The one I bought, with the United States map, is printed with a velvet-type material. They also had all their albums and EPs on vinyl for cheaper than you could find them online.
The opening act was a psychedelic rock band called Morning Teleportation. I’d never heard of them before the show and I was blown away by how infectious they were live, even not knowing the songs. They’re signed to Modest Mouse’s record label, Glacial Pace, and Isaac Brock produced their debut album, so it makes sense that Modest Mouse invited them on tour. They had keyboard entwined grooves and received a very good response from the crowd who was audibly interested in who they were.