Modest Mouse Nail the Beat, but Lose Their Sloppy Sincerity

Categories: Last Night

Modest Mouse
Palladium Ballroom
November 10

Better than: the person who did a karaoke version of "Float On" at the Double Wide after the show

Mike Brooks
The best photos in the slide show

A decade ago I counted Modest Mouse amongst my very favorite bands. Ten years, two full-lengths, a pair of EPs, and a handful of car commercials later the band's aura is strikingly different. No longer is the band content to get by on the drunken sounding off-kilter keys and tempos of their pre-Moon and Antarctica material, evolving from a three-piece into having as many as eight musicians on stage at any given time. The often out-of-time guitars have been dropped in favor of banjos, trumpets, keyboards and violins.

The melancholy of albums like The Lonesome Crowded West and Building Nothing Out of Something is still somewhat present, only it is noticeably more calculated these days. As the band performs now with two drummers, its sounds must be tighter and more preordained than the sloppy sincerity of yesteryear. Songs like "Custom Concern" and "Cowboy Dan" still sounded pretty great, but somehow lacked the free-form spontaneity of the band in its prime.

Upon walking in to the Palladium last night I instantly felt like David Wooderson from Dazed and Confused, 10 years removed from the last time I saw the band, but with a large percentage of the audience the age I was then. In other words, you could easily imagine lead singer Issac Brock nudging one of his bandmates and uttering the line "You know what I like about our fans? I get older, they stay the same age."

Only when I was digesting the show hours later did I finally pinpoint that what the band was lacking all these year was the drunken abandon of its youth. Sure, sobering up (somewhat) might have made Modest Mouse better persons, but it also made their music tighter and more predictable. And it does make sense; how far from the beat or melody can one really stray with eight musicians and two drummers? It's a bigger sound but one far less charming than the band's fans knew so many years ago.

Critic's Notebook
Personal bias: The last time I saw Modest Mouse was when they played the Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth almost 10 years to the day from last night. I never thought they'd still be around a decade later, much less playing a venue the size of the Palladium. It was literally the first show I've ever been to that made me feel old.

Random note: Violist Lisa Molinaro from opening band Talkdemonic joined Modest Mouse for several songs on strings and backup vocals, further adding to their big refined sound.

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My Voice Nation Help

I thought they were amazing live, they sounded just incredible. me and my boyfriend stuck around the back after the show and got to meet them all, they were so freakin nice and cool! signed autographs, took pictures and chatted. i was in heaven!!

KT has the setlist up.  Great show.  I had fun.  First time seeing them, but have been a huge fan since 2002. 

Mr. Sack
Mr. Sack

So what happened?????? Setlist...nothing??


I got a kick out of this review, written by a high school student who was probably grossed out by this dude at the show: imagine Maya Rudolph's SNL character from Wake Up Wakefield.  This writer is illustrative and informative, she is also unwittingly hilarious.


This is such an offensive "review"!  I know anybody can be a writer these days, but seriously?  I read this article to find out how the show went, not to be exposed to a bitter, creepy old dude harping about what his Miller Lite soaked mind thinks were the good ol' days.  Obviously Isaac (check your spelling, asshole) has grown up to form a different idea of what a good time is and he respects the fact that fans spend their money, time and energy just to see him.  This is a man who can express his views and emotions with words and music to the point of altering lives and you just compared him to the smarmy Matthew McConaughey character in Dazed & Confused?  You're an idiot, thanks for pissing me off before my coffee could even get cold this morning, douchebag.

The Listener
The Listener

oh. right. you're the pretentious blog guy.


Actually, it's rather easy to get out of time/sloppy with eight musicians. I'll never understand why sloppy is somehow considered preferable to tight, professional musicianship. Somehow, I don't recall the band's recorded music as being sloppy. I've never viewed them as Replacements-like; a band that even went out of their way to record sloppily. As a music critic, I'd think you of all people would appreciate a band who has (i) grown musically, (ii) has longevity, (iii) is still, obviously, relevant, and (iv) have become better musicians. While you claim that this is the first show you've been to that has made you feel old, I can only assume that you mean you felt old with respect to your looks, conversations overheard, and style of dress; because from your so-called review, your understanding and appreciation of music appears to have not matured with your chronological age.

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