Modest Mouse / Operators Metropolis, Montreal QC, September 8
Published Sep 09, 2015Over the last 15 years, Modest Mouse have become one of the most instantly recognizable names in indie rock. Born and bred in Washington's underground music scene, Isaac Brock's distinctive, warbling vocals and the band's unique sound piqued the interest of mainstream ears and took off.
Modest Mouse seemed set to make a triumphant return to Montreal, but a mix of high expectations, subpar sound and a very long, drawn out, almost-three-hour-long set, the evening fell short. There was a lingering feeling of disappointment and confusion looming just below the surface throughout the night.
Beginning the evening on a high note, Operators made sure that the packed crowd got into the dancing mood. Playing tracks off their debut EP (the aptly titled EP1), as well as a few new songs off their upcoming record, their short opening set was a high-octane trip, bathed in flickering red and turquoise light. Launching themselves into each song like it was their last, the group gave the large Metropolis stage an intimate after-hours feel, as each member showed their skills while still creating a chaotic, unified whole.
Following shortly after, lead singer/guitarist Isaac Brock and the rest of Modest Mouse took to the stage in a dramatic haze of red lights and purple smoke. Opening with the slow-burner "Of Course We Know" off their latest album, Strangers to Ourselves, they began in an unusual yet intimate way; the entire crowd seemed immediately absorbed by the action. As the night progressed, the songs remained tight, but minute-long pauses between songs to retune or switch their instruments hurt the momentum terribly. Launching into muffled, and at times puzzling stage banter during these lulls, Brock made the quieter moments that much more uncomfortable.
Playing crowd-pleasing favourites like "Dashboard," "3rd Planet," "Fire It Up" and "Missed the Boat" over the course of their nearly three-hour-long set, it was clear that Modest Mouse knew what their crowd wanted to hear. However, while their prolonged show does sound fun on paper, in practice it ended up being more of an exercise in concert stamina than a truly enjoyable show. Disjointed, but fun, Modest Mouse's headlining spot left the crowd mostly satisfied but awfully tired.