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Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Mouser-Size Me (Night # 1)

It's 1 AM and I'm leaning next to an Oregonian box in the Pearl District. I should have been in bed an hour ago but there's a piece of toilet paper stuck in my right ear. Before I head home, I'm determined to pry it out with the plastic tooth pic from my Swiss Army Knife. My hearing took a serious blow at a show last spring and now, like a wuss, I insist on protecting my ears everytime I get near an amplifier. Making due with TP earplugs is about to result in permanent damage to my left ear drum.

Or not. The one-ply plug pops out and I'm on my way after a mere 10 seconds of intensive surgery. How anti-climatic.

After a long series of banal events, I wound up with tickets to Modest Mouse's entire 4-night stint at the Crystal Ballroom.
I saw the band back in April but their performance was marred by sound problems, an irritable audience and faulty, poorly timed smoke machines. Why pay to see a band that's notorious for its lackluster live shows? I'm a glutton for punishment and I still had a hankering to hear "Cowboy Dan" played live. Plus, I planned on selling the other three tickets.

Unlike last time, Monday's show was spot on and nary a stolen hat popped up to distract lead singer Isaac Brock. Modest Mouse opened with "3rd Sun" and rolled through nearly on song Good News for People Who Love Bad News, throwing in the occasional dust-covered college radio hit.

Three songs in I was already planning on coming downtown for the other shows. Maybe I could turn this into the emo rock equivalent of Supersize Me. But what would the rules be? No bathing for four days? No smiling, only frowning and slight head bobbing? Drop 30 pounds and gain 3,000 Sub Pop records in 3 days? Before I could settle on a list, Gustav from 94.7 jumped on the stage and announced plans for a fifth show on Friday. Another $18 to accomplish a pointless, self-imposed challenge? Screw that. So much for the endurance test.

The Ballroom was packed with undergrads back for winter break. As Modest Mouse came on, I was wedged between a trash can, a wooden railing and four kids decked out in trucker paraphernalia and stuffed full of ecstasy. They spent the entire time sloppily giving each other piggy back rides. As I ducked flying plastic cups, one of which hit me in the crotch, I took note of all the gas station jackets and Buddy Holly glasses in the audience. Isn't this look ever going to go out of style?

Towards the end of the set, someone with a face obscured by dreadlocks asked if I would watch their murky microbrew. I agreed and, before I knew it, three other cups were being babysat by my dangling feet. As Brock howled through a 15-minute "Cowboy Dan," the E Kids' dancing became increasingly erratic, forcing everyone around them to provide a wide berth. On the verge of collapsing, one of them, looking like a sea sick Soleil Moon Frye, headed over to railing and took a seat. Somehow over the music, I heard a vague gagging noise. I glanced over and Pukey Brewster was staring at my neck "Holy, shit. She's going to vomit all over my hoodie," I thought. Then her gaze slouched down towards the beer. "Holy, shit. She's going to puke all over the beer and those freeloading bastards are going to blame me for doing nothing to stop her."

Somewhere between exhaling the contents of her guts and falling over the side, one of her friends arrived on the scene and they began hugging like sex-starved Care Bears dressed in teamster duds. This drew the attention of the others and suddenly I was sitting adjacent to a John Deer-endorsed love-a-thon.

Hooray for emo rock!

Brock after beating the hell out of "Cowboy Dan": "Come back tomorrow. We'll do better."


Encore songs: Uh, I forget.
Amount of beer spilled on my hoodie: 8 onces (estimate).
Number of on-leave Marines that spent the whole time staring at the stage and scowling: 1
Total number of nearby audience members that dance like they were extremely constipated: 3
Total number of ironic t-shirts in the ballroom: Infinity + 2
Total number of mesh trucker hats in the ballroom: Infinity + 3.
Total number of beers successfully protected from Pukey Girl: 3
Reward for protecting those 3 beers from Pukey: A single, muttered "thank you."

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