There has been a lot to talk about Modest Mouse lately. From the line-up change which brought former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr into the fold, to the monumental amount of airplay for the first single, “Dashboard,” to constant discussions of the ramifications of the band’s so-called popularity, there has been no shortage of discussion topics. Yet, as this show approached, the preponderance of chit chat about it seemed to revolve around the venue they would play at. The show, moved to the PNE Forum from neighboring Pacific Coliseum, brought about a general consensus that neither venue was ideal for Modest Mouse. Even the band’s kingpin, Isaac Brock called the venue a “big brick shoebox” during banter in between songs.
Grand Archives and Love As Laughter were both of little consequence. Both bands had qualities which seemed to give them license to open for Modest Mouse, yet both were sadly not up to the task. Grand Archives showed a little potential, with a few songs of fever-stricken rock, and a sound reminiscent of Neil Young’s harder material. However, they sustained no real vigor or interest from the crowd.
Modest Mouse’s set began with much more promise, as the band immediately treated everyone to some older favorites. Both the band and crowd gained energy on the heels of new album’s standout, “Fire It Up,” and just when the show seemed poised to boil-over — half way through a rousing rendition of “Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes” — the group devolved into a jam band. Johnny Marr did more interesting things that night than he did in his time between the Smiths break-up and joining Modest Mouse. Brock maintained his tortured genius persona, but the show was blemished by constant feedback. In retrospect, the band did not put on a bad show, as they managed rock the notoriously finicky venue much better than anticipated.