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Modest Mouse – Glasgow ABC

There are some bands who exist in a world of their own. Sometimes it is a world of their own creation, be that through conscious decision or simply through massive sales and status. In the case of Modest Mouse, it’s down to many things but the inescapable truth is a basic one; they just don’t really sound like anyone else.

Isaac Brock’s idiosyncracies on record have made the MM back catalogue one of the most interesting in modern rock. It’s difficult to imagine anyone loving all of it unconditionally – even its creator doesn’t – but from lo-fi psychedelic wig-outs through punk to soul to shanty, everything they have done has been that one degree out of alignment. Brock’s best work has the woozy quality of other genuinely odd musical mavericks like Roky Erickson or Warren Zevon. Like them, the music is, on the surface, incredibly strange until you realise there is a conventional song struggling to get out but not quite making it through the creator’s psyche without being altered. The thing that makes Modest Mouse special is how natural the weirdness is. There’s nothing artificial or wilful about it.

Opening up with a blasting, howling ‘Whale Song’, the band have a two-drummer attack which necessitates that everything else is ear-witheringly loud, though clear. The beautiful, elegiac ‘3rd Planet’ follows, almost unearthly in its twisted beauty. ‘Dashboard’ is greeted like a long-lost friend by the more casual fans, but for their most accessible song, it’s still not the most straightforward song you’ll ever hear, with the deranged trumpet vying with a sprinkling of chunky guitar shards to scour your brain deepest.

‘Paper Thin Walls’ and ‘Satin in a Coffin’ are highlights before their most anthemic number, the mighty ‘Float On’. It’s altered slightly from its recorded form, more reflective and less manic, the quiet moment as the party breaks up. It’s a gorgeous, shimmering thing tonight, all angular beauty as it’s edges dig into your soul.

The set concludes with a spirited ‘Dramamine’, which exemplifies Brock at his best – defiant, angry, odd and lovely. It’s heart-lifting to know that a band like this sell records and fill venues like this. The set is razor-sharp, perfectly paced and in 20 songs, they don’t play a bad one. It’s a 90 minute set which just flies. The sound ricochets from all over the arena, condensing into a veritable sound and fury in the middle. It’s great.

How good are Modest Mouse? One of the best and most interesting bands we have out there just now. Treasure them.

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2 Responses

  1. couldn’t agree more, they are truly unique. it was an eclectic set but all the more enjoyable for it, I’m going to go back and listen to those tracks on the albums that I haven’t listened to yet!

  2. Great gig. It’s nice to see two drummers. It sort of died out post-Gary Glitter.

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