Modest Mouse at Webster Hall
Modest Mouse was a Napster discovery for me, back in 1999, or 2000, and I probably downloaded 25 or 30 of their songs. Several of these remain in regular rotation on my daily On-the-Go Mix-making, especially those—like Heart Cooks Brain and Trailer Trash—from The Lonesome Crowded West, the band's best album. I sometimes feel guilty about all the music I "stole" back then, but in Modest Mouse's case... not so much, given the out-of-left-field multi-platinum success of their last CD, Good News for People Who Love Bad News, and the fact that they ripped through the city last week with FIVE sold-out shows.
Anyway, Wednesday night at Webster Hall... yeah, I must say, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Isaac Brock really knows how to put on a rock show. He flings his guitar around, screams and jumps, knocks over the mic stand, tears the top off his keyboard, sings into his guitar pick-ups, smokes and drinks and was pretty much total high-energy for the set's entire two hours. New guitarist Johnny Marr, formerly of the Smiths, offers a nice counterpoint to Brock's slightly crazed demeanor and blue-collar fuck-em attitude, both in his onstage temperament (low key and sexy) as well as his musical heritage of 80s British mope-rock.
The set list included a good number of obvious crowd favorites like Ocean Breathes Salty, Bury Me With It, Tiny Cities Made of Ashes and Float On; a couple of surprises, like Bukowski, Breakthrough and the great Dramamine as the final encore; as well as a number of instantly engaging new songs that clearly display Marr's presence in the creative process. Their new album is due out early next year, and is titled "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank."
The band may have been super tight, but the crowd was pretty sloppy: younger than I expected and a lot more drunk and annoying than I would have liked, but because I was alone I could easily move to a new spot on the floor when, for example, those two staggering/dancing? young women kept hitting me in the back of the head (and slurring "It's a coooooncert, maaaaaan.... just chiiiiiilllll...."), or when this green-around-the-gills kid almost passed out on my shoulder. For more on the crowd, see gawker. For more excellent rock and roll, see Modest Mouse.