Striking The Sky
Article By: Jennie Walker/ Photos By: Kenneth Coles
White people love Modest Mouse. If the general admission floor hadn’t been so packed, I’m half convinced a mosh pit would have started. As it stands, the night ended with people who seemed to be strangers putting their arms around each other and jumping up and down while pumping their free fists up into the air as if they were creating the beat by striking the sky. Yet this enthusiastic ending was only the culmination of a three hour wind up of energy created by the bands and audience feeding off each other.
The night started off with Tropical Fuck Storm, an Australian Band who gave everything they had and more to the set. Within a half hour, all four bandmates were shaking their heads to and fro to both embody the music they were performing and dislodge the hair stuck to their faces from sweat. Tropical Fuck Storm emphasized the guitar, picking and strumming melodies on up to three guitars at a time, along with vocal melody. The lead male vocalist emphasized the songs’ lyrics to a point where a mist of saliva was constantly raining down in front of him, a mist of white standing out against the field of blue light painting the scene behind them. Tropical Fuck Storm’s enthusiasm for their music and their passion for the notes they were playing was the best possible prelude to Modest Mouse.
Modest Mouse started off their set by building up excitement and tension for nearly an hour while the stage’s set changed to accommodate an influx of various instruments the band would use. Horns, keyboards, multiple drum sets, and of course microphones and guitars were slowly but surely brought on to the stage, signifying the blast of sound that was to come. When the lights finally went down and the crowd started cheering, Modest Mouse began to play as orange and blue lights rotated, creating a warm and cool contrast that moved with the steady beat of their opening track “Missed the Boat.” Once their introduction was complete, Modest Mouse kicked the show into high gear with an upbeat song that complemented the energetic white and green flashing lights that accompanied the tune.
Just like Tropical Fuck Storm, Modest Mouse focused on stringed instruments and vocal harmonies, allowing the chords of the guitar and, later on, the banjo to be front and center in their arrangement as they sang perfectly in time with each other. Sometimes lead singer Isaac Brock would play a song a little longer as the rest of the band switched out guitars or changed instruments. Sometimes he would ask the crowd how they were doing or whether they were drinking water. But these interludes were short lived and the band jumped right back into music, playing hit after hit in an unpredictable manner. Sometimes the vocals from the band would come through clearly as only a few scattered people shouted out the words, yet only a minute later the band’s voices would be indiscernible as as the crowd yelled out the lyrics to hits like “Lampshades on Fire” or “Float On.”
For much of this time I stayed near the front, taking note of the ever changing bursts of light that cut through from the back of the stage, and trying to stay upright as people tried, and failed, to take over a spot on the barrier at the front of the venue. Any energy sent out to the crowd was returned back to the band tenfold through dancing and singing and jumping and head nodding. No matter who knew the words or was familiar with the music, everyone was doing something, ranging from a simple foot tap to flinging themselves into other people as they experienced the music. The brighter and more energetic the lights got, the more the crowd jumped up and down and cheered. As the show winded down, I drifted toward the back of the venue and out the doors, still nodding my head to the music I could no longer hear and thankful for being able to be part of the organized chaos of a Modest Mouse audience.