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Wednesday, April 14, 2004
The Mouse That Bored (Crystal Ballroom, 4/16)
OK, one last Modest Mouse-related post. After this, I promise to never mention them again.
You've probably heard the stories. No, not the one about Issac Brock allegedly raping and pillaging his way through Seattle, nor the one about his jaw being broken by teenagers in Chicago. I'm talking about Modest Mouse weak live performances and their lead singer's tendency to show up drunk and stupid.
To his credit, Brock didn't seem the least bit tipsy on Friday night during his band's show at the Crystal Ballroom.
Part of the problem was the bowl of Kix, the beef jerky and four beers in my stomach as I headed up Burnside. In a rush to get downtown to the Goose Hollow before the show, I had didn't have time to ingest the proper fats and carbs to keep me going through a three + hour show.
The most self-indulgent opening act in the world was flogging the audience when I arrived. I didn't catch their name but the band consisted of a drum machine, a guitarist and a rotund guy with a moustache. The crowd tossed cups and food at them as they roared into their last song. As the machine blurped and as the guitar wailed, the fat man screamed "you're on my list" over and over again for ten minutes. At one point, he offered the microphone to girl in the front row. "You're on *my* list" she howled back. He fired back with "no, you're on *my* list." They went back and forth for like this for what seemed like three hundred billion hours.
Already feeling sea sick on the Ballroom's bouncing dance floor, I sought out a Red Bull to silence my stomach's demands for anything with the slightest bit of nutritional value. This did not work. With nothing better to do, I began firing text messages at various #'s on my cell phone. One reads:
"The mouse! I can see the mouse! Why did it have to be so high? Holy God fuck!"
Standing at the edge of the room, I was five feet from Isaac Brock as he finally strolled out at 11:15. I remember thinking, "Does he meet the height requirement for legal midget status" as he headed to the stage in mesh trucker's hat.
From the very beginning, the band was marred by technical difficulties. Sudden blasts of feedback interrupted songs. At times, the music completely overpowered the vocals.
The band's crew seemed like a group of high school kids trying put on a concert at a yearly talent show. The lights were poorly timed to the music and a nearby fog machine spat out clouds at random, inopportune moments. At one point, Brock requested the house lights go up so he could "see what the fuck he was doing."
Despite all this, the crowd didn't seemed to mind and went ape every time the band rolled into a track off Lonesome Crowded West or The Moon and Antarctica. For "Wild Packs of Family Dogs," the band took several minutes to set up a cello and other instruments, bringing the show to a screeching halt. Afterwards, they spent several minutes after the song returning to their original spots.
Towards the end initial set, my stomach was staging a violent revolt. It felt like it wanted to bounce out of my belly button and crawl to the Taco Bell up the street. To make matters worse, a hipster wouldn't stop babbling at me about the time he watched the band play a warehouse in '97. Modest Mouse, the hipster, the whole thing felt like it was trying to bore into my skull. Then, suddenly, as the band began "Doin' the Cockroach," all these nasty storm clouds dissipated. The hipster shut his mouth, the technical glitches disappeared and my stomach was feeling better. I could even hear Brock's voice. It was as if I was magically transported through space and time to a better concert.
The band left the stage and we all did the obligatory "where's the encore" thing. They returned and all seemed well in the world...
...until someone in front tore a hat off someone else's head and tossed it at Brock. "Who threw it," he demanded. Someone raised a hand. "You're a fucking prick for doing that." He threw it back but the hat missed the mark.
As the band cut into a song the hat made its way back to the stage and Brock seemed pissed. They rushed through three quick songs and stormed off. "Is that all," the hipster asked as they headed downstairs. "The show's over," a guitarist spat back. There wasn't a single encore "Orange Julius" and "Cowboy Dan" was no where in sight. Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame!
The crowd stood around in a daze for a few minutes. Was this all the hat guy's fault? Or is a paltry 75 minute show with a 15 minute intermission all Modest Mouse typically dishes out? At an LA concert, they did a "Wind Beneath My Wings" cover, dammit. How kooky would that have been?
But I didn't have time for these questions. If I didn't get tacos stat, I was going to melt on the dance floor.