Modest Mouse is a band whose sound is recognizable, even to those who have somehow managed to avoid hearing their name. Singer Isaac Brock’s vocal inflections and lyrics including blue collar idioms and themes are unique in their own right.
While the band formed in 1992, they didn't reach commercial success until the early 2000’s, with the release of The Moon & Antarctica (2000) and Good News for People Who Love Bad News (2004). It was the latter album that became certified platinum, putting out two of the band’s biggest hits, “The Ocean Breathes Salty” and “Float On.” Though the band has teased a follow-up album to their most recent album Strangers to Ourselves (2015) is in the works, Modest Mouse is currently on a headlining USA tour. Their tour landed them at San Diego’s Cal Coast Open Air Theatre.
It was a beautiful night, perfect for an outdoor concert on San Diego State’s grounds. School may be out, but the venue was as full as if it was the middle of the semester. Mattress opened the night, an obscure though somehow entertaining solo artist who danced his way through his pre-recorded tracks.
Their set opened up with "The World at Large" from Good News for People Who Love Bad News. This set up the pace for the night, as the crowd, once in their seats, had immediately rushed to the barricade to get just a few feet closer. One of their biggest songs, "Dashboard," from their 2007 album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, came early and was met with a thunderous cheer.
What's interesting, and honestly quite admirable, is the musical prowess and diversity that each member seems to have. Instruments were changed out faster than I could keep up, with Brock on guitar and banjo and Ben Blankenship grabbing a new instrument almost at every song. From lap guitar, to stand up bass to keys and guitar, he juggled each instrument with the utmost ease.
It wasn't until late in the night where the bands biggest singles were performed. "Lampshades on Fire," Modest Mouse's current radio single, played about halfway through their set with "The Ocean Breathes Salty" and "Float On" coming in a the end of the night. Like how the night began, it was a song from Good News for People Who Love Bad News, "The Devil's Workday," that finished off the night.
Modest Mouse have a huge tour ahead of them spanning all the way into October, so it's not too late to see them.