Modest Mouse sold out the Hard Rock Live Orlando Venue on Friday, April 20, 2018.
Isaac Brock & Lisa Molinaro of Modest Mouse.
The drive to Orlando from the coast always takes longer than you want it to take. Orlando, the city where you get the privilege of standing in line. You line up to park your car, you line up to queue past security, you line up to to enter Universal City Walk, you line up for a drink at the bar. The lines never end. It was due to all this lining up that I regret to say I missed the opener, Mass Gothic, perform.
Mass Gothic - "Nice Night"
The Modest Mouse portion of the show, though, was worth the waiting with singer and guitarist leading the audience on a guitar fueled romp through Modest Mouse’s entire catalogue. Having seen Modest Mouse several years before in Ft. Lauderdale, I had a healthy idea of what to expect. Modest Mouse’s fan base spans decades and they tend to be fervently loyal. It came as no surprise that the band sold out the Hard Rock Live Friday night.
Isaac Brock took the stage in an aggressively orange jumpsuit embroidered with a University of Florida gator head under a jacket. They opened with the bass thumping “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” that they broke loose for the second chorus. Multi-instrumentalist Lisa Molinaro assisted Brock with ethereal backing vocals. Unfortunately, there were sound issues from the jump making the overall sound a little muddy, but Brock and the band brought the energy to make up for it and the audience knew all the words to every song anyway.
As Brock took his jacket off, he told that crowd that he used to live in Gainesville. As a fellow Gainesvillian, I was delighted to learn that we had this shared geographic trajectory. From here the band launched in to “Black Cadillacs” off of Good News for People Who Love Bad News (2004). They moved through their catalogue randomly from here to 2000’s “Gravity Rides Everything” off The Moon & Antarctica. Brock manages to marry the upbeat with dark imagery like on “Black Cadillacs,” but most of the tracks from The Moon & Antarctica are moody layers of lived experience and the kind of Americana you only see on tour. He captures this particularly well on their first studio album, This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About (1996). However for live performances, Brock relies on his rhythm section, Jeremiah Green on drums and Tom Peloso and Russell Higbee who trade turns playing bass, to kick the songs into a higher, more danceable gear, which surprises most listeners familiar with the mostly melancholy song selections off of albums like The Moon & Antarctica.
With ten band members packed on stage, most of them multi-instrumentalists, and a symphony’s worth of instruments, the overall sound attained epic proportions and more than helped to compensate for any technical issues between the stage and the sound board. Even Brock switched his guitar out for a banjo during “Autumn Beds” off of 2009’s LP No One’s First and You’re Next. A cello appeared for “Satin in a Coffin”. A trumpet and what looked like a euphonium formed a horn section for “The Devil’s Workday,” which they performed at a frantic punk pace with appropriate red lighting.
The band performed crowd favorites like “Dancehall” and “Dashboard” in a surprising style that turned the songs into groovable dance tracks. Brock continually spliced mellower songs in between more danceable tunes to please all of the fans. The opening of “Trailer Trash” from The Lonesome Crowded West (1997) garnered big cheers. The crowd happily finishing the lyrics “Sorry if I dissed you” for Brock.
After the set the Roadies took to the stage to correct the sound issue. The band returned to better sound for the encore performing “3rd Planet,” “Float On,” “Wild Pack of Family Dogs”. Isaac Brock and the rest of Modest Mouse include something for all of their fans at every show and leave it all on the stage when they’re done. It was such a good show, I almost didn’t mind lining up to leave the venue.
Thanks to Mike Lothrop for the use of his pictures. Find more of his work here.