Modest Mouse at Southside Ballroom on the night of September 14 was a different concert experience than I am used to, and that is saying something since it was the fourth time I had seen them live. Previously I had found two of their concerts very lively and enjoyable and then one other not very good at all because they were not energized and almost exclusively played obscure songs off their newest album at the time, which I would say no one there was very familiar with.
It started out pretty normal with the openers, Mass Gothic, who were a good fit for Modest Mouse. They have a laid-back rock style that you can just float into while listening, thinking your own thoughts, but punctuated by powerful guitar solos and occasional screaming. That description is part of why I thought they were a good fit for a Modest Mouse crowd.
There was a pretty long intermission between Mass Gothic and before Modest Mouse, about forty-five minutes that made everyone a little antsy. Like I said, it was the fourth time I have seen them, but I was struck once again by the amount of people in the band and the amount of instruments they play. I think at all times there were at least seven people on stage and they all switched around with an abundance of instruments ranging from banjo, maracas, cello, trumpet, along with the obvious guitars, drums and keyboards. They started out rocking away with high energy to some decently popular songs so I knew the concert was going to be better than my one bad experience with them.
Then after about thirty minutes things started to go haywire. All of their microphones quit working midway through a song so for about five minutes we watched half the band smoke and talk amongst themselves while the sound crew scrambled around the stage. Things went well again for about an hour afterwards. The lights at Southside Ballroom are always some of the best I’ve seen in terms of variety and multitude, and Modest Mouse, particularly their lead singer, was very energetic and into the show, even playing the guitar with his mouth and yelling into it to get his voice muffled. But then they suddenly decided to take an “intermission” for about twenty minutes. A different decision then what I’ve seen before, but they came back rocking for about twenty more minutes in a makeshift encore that was worth the wait.