Modest Mouse Entertains Packed Lawn At White Oak Music Hall

Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse
Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse Photo by Violeta Alvarez
Modest Mouse
White Oak Music Hall
October 8, 2021

The last time I saw Modest Mouse perform, I walked away feeling frustrated and bitter.

About seven weeks after the Tax Day floods — which killed some Houstonians and caused flooding in tens of thousands of homes across the city — vocalist Isaac Brock referred to the crowd at Free Press Summer Fest 2016 as "essentially a FEMA camp" before he and his band rushed through their set, reimagining and reinterpreting almost every song along the way.

But time marches on, and half a decade later, I felt ready to heal.

On tour in support of their seventh studio album, The Golden Casket, Modest Mouse brought their quirky indie rock musings to a near sold-out White Oak Music Hall on Friday night. Six years removed from the release of Strangers To Ourselves — which largely underwhelmed fans and critics alike — the band seems to be in a good spot.

Their latest record — which has received some pretty rave reviews — showcases a reinvigorated outfit. Brock's lyrics abound with optimism and pleas for serenity, a far cry from the temperamental musings that influenced much of the band’s early work.

Inspired by domestic bliss, The Golden Casket boasts a sound that's familiar enough for longtime Modest Mouse fans to enjoy and adventurous enough to catch the ear of younger fans. And judging by the packed lawn at White Oak last night, these guys are far from being dismissed as a nostalgia act, their 30-year history notwithstanding.
click to enlarge Ear protection is a must - PHOTO BY VIOLETA ALVAREZ
Ear protection is a must
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
It's common practice for the Pacific Northwestern rockers to favor their deep cuts, and Friday's show was no exception. Eschewing the likes of "Missed The Boat," "The World At Large" and "Gravity Rides" everything, Modest Mouse instead began the evening with the first track from their debut album, This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About.

A third of the set was devoted to cuts from the new record, but some fan-favorites — including "Float On" and "Dashboard" – were included later. And even during the lesser-known songs, plenty of folks in the crowd were faithfully singing along to just about every word.

Brock's mood was noticeably different from the last time I saw him. He cracked jokes throughout the night and even told a funny story that likened Lynard Skynyrd's "Freebird" to a musical prison before performing "King Rat."

Whatever the reason for his new attitude, it was a welcome reprieve from the guy I encountered five years ago. And this go-round, nothing felt rushed. Instead, the band took their time and even lamented the impending curfew near the end of the show.

Even if it was cut a little short, and even if a few hits were absent, I felt lucky to be there. To be between the stars and the seas, enjoying an iconic indie rock outfit before going home and ending up in between my bed and sheets. And I look forward to seeing Modest Mouse again the next time they visit.

Cowboy Dan
Wooden Soldiers
Ice Cream Party
Fire It Up
We Are Between
We're Lucky
King Rat
Convenient Parking
Never Fuck A Spider On The Fly
Float On

Fuck Your Acid Trip
The Good Times Are Killing Me
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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever