A palpable nostalgia floated like mist outside the ticket gates of Breese Stevens Field before the Modest Mouse concert that took place this past Saturday. The long, sunny shadows and slight autumnal breeze set the perfect mood for the last concert of Breese Stevens’ summer season.
Inside the stadium, the field was a patchwork of colorful picnic blankets juxtaposed with people clad in dark denim and army boots. The general admission crowd was sparse, but growing as the first opener, Mass Gothic, took the stage.
The New York-based band, who have been touring with Modest Mouse, gave a performance full of youthful energy, intense guitar solos and yelling vocals, but they still managed to look bored while doing it. While the crowd seemed approving, the band’s nonchalance was admirable but uninspired.
The crowd had expanded significantly, and a collective cheer rang out as the main opener, Gogol Bordello, exploded out onto the stage. The internationally-known band describes their genre as a mixture of gypsy punk and Latin rock.
They made an impression from the moment they bounded onstage; the band members’ style was an eclectic fusion of brazen pirate, Old English steampunk and leather-clad biker dude.
Gogol Bordello shocked the audience into enjoying their crazy mix of electric guitar, accordion, electric violin and conga drums. The energy in the audience was almost tangible. When lead singer Eugene Hütz whipped his mangy hair back and screamed into the mic, “What the f— is going on, Wisconsin?!” the crowd went wild.
Their set became increasingly more energetic, and their power seemed to beckon the night as darkness fell over the field.
After a few bizarrely enjoyable songs, the audience was barely even surprised when the lovable vagabond frontman whipped out an open bottle and drenched the first row with a shower of red wine.
Near the end of the set, MC and drummer Pedro Erazo shouted into the mic, “We come to you with a message of peace, love and unity … international style!” and then the band departed in a flurry of activity, leaving the crowd stunned and excited for the main act.
Although Modest Mouse had a tough act to follow, being huge Gogol Bordello fans themselves, they had massive support from the crowd — which now stretched nearly across the entire football field. The Portland-based band has been on tour around the country since May, and have enjoyed popularity, especially in niche circles, after their formation in 1992.
They began their set with a dark stage and close to five minutes of ambient noise, building suspense in the crowd.
Their first couple songs, loud and atmospheric, were a slight energy drop from Gogol Bordello, but by the third song, they really it picked up with some funky bass and heavy guitar. Their two drumsets and violin created an intense vibe, sort of like a heartbeat that connected the members of the audience.
The crowd was appreciative of classics like “Float On” and “Ocean Breathes Salty,” and seemed to enjoy the setlist as a whole. The lead singer, Isaac Brock, added some humorous commentary in between songs and impressed the crowd with some quality face guitar playing.
After a brief intermission, the show began to feel a little repetitive, and the loudness was slightly abrasive at points. However, Modest Mouse could do no wrong in the eyes of their fans, who stuck with them the entire time. The show concluded with a tasteful, calming acoustic and the audience left happy, although with ringing ears.