The sold-out Sylvee was the place to be on Sunday night for fans of one of the defining acts in indie rock this century, Modest Mouse. The Grammy-nominated group is touring their latest studio album, “The Golden Casket,” which dropped last year.
The new project marks Modest Mouse’s 10th addition to their discography since their debut all the way back in 1996. Over the past 20 years, the band has enjoyed a storied career, accumulating millions of fans that remain dedicated to this day. With this tour, Modest Mouse seeks to deliver the deep cuts that only the most seasoned fans will appreciate, and they were undoubtedly in attendance on Sunday.
Long before the band took the stage, the venue was packed with fans both young and old crowded into the pit. It was a nice mix of middle-aged people, millennials and Gen Z attendees all coming together to see their favorite band live. Fans could be overheard discussing which Modest Mouse albums were their favorites or sharing fond memories of previous shows.
At 8 p.m., experimental electronic artist Mattress took the stage to warm up the crowd. Wearing his signature golden suit, the self-proclaimed couch rock artist began turning knobs to lay down a hypnotic drum machine beat.
Mattress opened with a western-inspired track that combined bluesy harmonica samples with synthetic, ethereal electronics. Between the strange, zany lyrics and Mattress’ onstage theatrics, the audience wasn’t sure whether to laugh or dance.
Mattress debuted some of his new material live with “Fubar” and “Post Human Humans.” Dancing across the stage, Mattress got mixed reactions from the crowd.
He delivered sometimes hilarious, sometimes poetic one-liners in a deep, radio announcer monotone over dance-friendly instrumentals, prompting a few awkward laughs but failing to really energize the audience. By the time he reached his final song, “Mousehole,” the crowd was more than ready to see the real mice.
After a brief intermission, Modest Mouse took the stage, well, modestly. There was no need for a flashy stage setup or grand entrance. The four members of the band simply walked onstage to thunderous applause and picked up their instruments. The first tune was a cut from their second album, “Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine.” The live version of the song featured a hectic extended jam session at the end that got the crowd moving right away with Joe Plummer’s intense drum work and Isaac Brock’s infectious guitar riffs.
Modest Mouse’s setlist was clearly motivated by selecting fun songs to perform. It was clear from the look in frontman Isaac Brock’s eye that he was in his element. The setlist did not include smash hits like “Float On” or “Dashboard,” but this was not disappointing to the audience. The loyal crowd had come for the deep cuts, and Modest Mouse delivered.
The band spared any long introductions to their music, opting to transition seamlessly from one song to the next without a second of silence. They had set out on a mission to deliver as much music as possible to create an unforgettable experience.
Memorable moments from the performance included “Cowboy Dan,” a fan-favorite song with fun lyrics to sing along to, and “Doin’ the Cockroach,” which was the song that best utilized the harsh noise elements that the band is known for. Squeaky feedback and intentionally gritty guitar techniques became part of the sound, adding a new dimension to the already top-notch guitar lines. “Long Distance Drunk” was another unforgettable moment. The song featured echoing electronic drum effects that really emulated the feeling of drunkenness.
Finally, Brock asked the audience for requests for the final song. A fan favorite, “Styrofoam Boots,” was the most popular choice, and Modest Mouse happily obliged. The song was the perfect closer, culminating in a breakdown that gradually sped up as the soloing band members fed off the energy in the room.
The show was not over, though. Modest Mouse kept the crowd waiting for an encore, cheering until they began to question whether or not they would get one. Sure enough, Modest Mouse returned to the stage for a surprise cover of The Flaming Lips’ “Five Stop Mother Superior Rain.” The irreverent rendition was full of the band’s signature harsh noise elements, with passionate performances by all group members.
The brief encore set concluded with “Whenever You Breathe Out, I Breathe In,” yet another track pulled from the bands’ formative years. The heartfelt vocals brought out the emotions that were building in fans the whole night — there were no dry eyes in the room. When the song was over, Modest Mouse left the stage as unceremoniously as they had arrived, to the biggest ovation of the night.
Modest Mouse’s 2022 tour is slated to hit the East Coast next, with upcoming performances in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York. This year's show is a must-see for those who are more than surface-level listeners to the band. If you have a sleeper Modest Mouse track that you are dying to see performed live, this tour is a great opportunity to do so.