Cavernous, heavy, and deep like the ocean of the Pacific Northwest, tempered by the frothy delicacy of front man Isaac Brock’s distinct vocals, Modest Mouse has made a career combining the extremes and achieved a mainstream success that belies their more alternative roots. Contrasts are reflected in everything from song compositions, which frequently play with tempo and dynamic, to the band’s album titles— most notably 2004’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News and most recently, Strangers to Ourselves (2015).
Mention Seattle’s 90s rock scene and one band immediately springs to mind, but Modest Mouse wasn’t far behind. Formed in 1992, the band built a sound that would help define the decade and shape it for years to come. The Lonesome Crowded West, released in 1997, was the band’s last for indie-label Up Records before the Modest men jumped to Epic in 2000 for The Moon and Antarctica. Facing tough competition from Radiohead’s Kid A, the album managed to sell more than 500,000 copies and make just about every publication’s “Best Of” list. Unsurprisingly, critics and fans quickly condemned the band’s turn toward commercialization, especially after leasing their single “Gravity Rides Everything” for a Nissan advertisement.
In true Brock fashion, he explained the decision to the AV Club: “People who don’t have to make their living playing music can bitch about my principles while they spend their parents’ money or wash dishes for some asshole.” The release of Good News only thrust the band further into the spotlight with the album’s first single “Float On” gaining a popularity that is both enduring and unexpected. Floridians get a special shout-out on the fourth full length, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, in a possible ode to Brock’s time in the Sunshine State with our “grass stains and fresh fruit”. Even the latest release has hints of that beautiful, caustic chaos from the early albums; special standouts are “Lampshades on Fire” and “Pistol”. To put it simply, if you aren’t here for the band’s newest material, you don’t deserve them at The Lonesome Crowded West.
Central Florida fans will have two chances to see the band as Foundation Presents Modest Mouse first at The St. Augustine Amphitheatre on Thursday, September 7th (outdoor enthusiasts should consider camping at Anastasia State Park and walking to the show from the tent!) and then at Hard Rock Live in Orlando, FL on the following night, September 8th.