When you’re reaching 30 years as a band and you have as much in the tank as Modest Mouse, you should count yourself as lucky. While there have been elongated breaks between the last few releases, Modest Mouse is not about to start slipping. Last year’s The Golden Casket reassured fans that Modest Mouse was still in that game and ready to deliver a great album. Every release is as anticipated as the last, but there is just something special about the tried and true favorites. Thankfully Modest Mouse know this and with the 25th anniversary of The Lonesome Crowded West, that meant a tour playing the album in its entirety was on!
The Lonesome Crowded West is one of those undeniable albums of the ’90s, truly capturing a moment in time and making it feel everlasting. It’s an album full of all the anxieties and the inevitable disillusionment we all face (and so many on the road/wanderlust metaphors) while shifting from gentle and sad sounds to pulse -ounding ragers. Last week at the Riviera Theatre, Modest Mouse reminded the packed crowd just how special that album continues to be.
Barring the encore and special VIP pre-show, the set stuck faithfully to The Lonesome Crowded West as promised. Seeing a full album, especially one as diverse and as enthralling as The Lonesome Crowded West is always a treat. There’s just something about mixing the at-home experience of listening to a beloved album track list with the live show theatrics. Then when you take into account Isaac Brock’s commanding stage presence that was on from the start, you have a show that was as relentless as it was cathartic. “Teeth Like God’s Showshine” obviously kicked things off as Modest Mouse threw the diehard crowd headfirst into the show.
Despite knowing exactly where they were going next, Modest Mouse‘s set felt lively and special. There was a rush knowing that after the raw and rollicking “Doin’ the Cockroach” and “Cowboy Dan” would be the heartbreaking “Trailer Trash.” That three-song portion of the night that fell right in the middle of everything showcased just how eclectic and powering The Lonesome Crowded West is. The anger of a tiresome existence in “Doin’ the Cockroach” and the feeling of futility in “Cowboy Dan” lead in wonderfully to the vulnerable “Trailer Trash.” The line “And I guess that I miss you and I’m sorry if I dissed you” rang out with all the sadness it needed.
The same could be said about every song that evening. No song felt like it got the short end of the stick. instead every track felt like it got the exact amount of vigor it called for, both from Modest Mouse and the excited crowd. “Out of Gas” and its chant-like cadence had the crowd mesmerized. The rapid fire rage of “Shit Luck” was coupled with flashing lights and audience members letting their frustration out, screaming along. Brock’s dark ode to depression “Polar Opposites” echoed along with the Riviera during its labored chorus “I’m tryin’, I’m tryin’ to drink away the part of the day that I cannot sleep away.”
The show came to a close with a three-song encore that took a little side tour of Modest Mouse‘s catalog. A cover of The Flaming Lips (“Five Stop Mother Superior Rain”), a current tour staple but rarely played before “Edit the Sad Parts,” and an older but perennial classic in “Night on the Sun.” It was a nice little cherry on top of the evening and even if the band had played some more of their hits throughout the night, I still think the heart of the show would have the enduring quality of The Lonesome Crowded West.
All photos by Julian Ramirez