Modest Mouse Bayou Music Center November 7, 2014
It's no question that Bayou Music Center was packed to the gills Friday for the Modest Mouse show. Heck, it's been nearly a decade since the band last hit a Houston stage. A long decade at that, for both the band and the adoring fans that have been desperately awaiting their next arrival in the Bayou City.
In the time Modest Mouse has been away, they've released arguably their most popular (not necessarily their best) record in We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, toured globally and even featured famed Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr for a three-year stretch. But we didn't get that tour -- or any of the others in the past ten years for that matter.
But as a city we're used to it, so we savor any chance we get to see the band. Many fans in Houston are forced to travel great distances to see our favorite acts, hitting festivals in hopes to knock off two or three that don't really come around these parts. For a decade, that's unfortunately the only way for Houstonians to catch MM until they hit BMC.
Well, thanks to Austin's love for hosting major music festivals, Houstonians are usually treated to an onslaught of live shows surrounding those yearly events. Because of Fun Fun Fun Fest Houston saw a hit parade of great performances all weekend, but Modest Mouse drew the most chatter in the days leading up to the show.
Which was obvious walking up to the crowded venue, where bathroom lines were only exceeded by bar lines. A rowdy set by openers Rocket From the Crypt put a buzz in the air, and everyone in the room was ready to be treated to the performance they'd been waiting for.
And Modest Mouse didn't disappoint. The show seemed to start a bit slow, but as soon as "Dashboard" hit three songs in, the room was jumping. Behind ringmaster Isaac Brock's trademark growl, specifically during "Ocean Breathes Salty" and "Shit In Your Cut," Modest Mouse caught their stride early and never even thought of looking back.
As a band, they have that rare ability to jump through their entire discography, playing the songs just as they did when they recorded them, but adding more than enough piss and vinegar to keep it interesting. They leaned heavily on both Good News For People Who Love Bad News and fan favorite The Moon & Antarctica, but mixed it up a bunch and included rarer cuts like "Never Ending Math Equation" and encore opener "Coyotes."
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The real heat came from the run of songs from "I Came As a Rat" through vigorous show closer "Tiny Cities Made of Ash." The little extra the band put into the last stretch might have served as a subtle reminder to the crowd why -- even after a decade's absence -- they still keep coming back.
There's a reason that Modest Mouse, despite much mainstream success in their career and the lack of a recently relevant record, have continued to play to sold-out crowds during their time on the road this year. There's a reason Fun Fun Fun Fest and several other major events have had them top their bill. There's a reason they are still at the top of their game. And if you've seen them live, especially if you were one of the lucky ones in Friday night's crowd, you would know why they are.
Personal Bias: Despite being a bit late to the Modest Mouse game, I've been a huge fan of the band for many years, so it was cool to have them play down the street from my front door. I've had the chance to see them three times before (Rothbury, Mich. in '08, San Francisco in '09 and Pemberton, B.C. earlier this year), but this show was just a bit better because I didn't have to fly to see it.
The Crowd: Packed and happy. And then there was the presumably drunk dude they had to wheelchair out of the venue.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Fuck you cops! I Love Modest Mouse!!!" -- said dude before being escorted out.
Random Notebook Dump:: Even though Fun Fun Fun was assuredly fun, it seemed as Modest Mouse fans got the better deal in Houston. They played less than half the amount of songs in Austin as they did in Houston. Big win for the good guys!
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