What the hell was that?! This was the thought that immediately came to mind as I walked out of the sold out Starland Ballroom on Thursday night, a rare local show for a band that’s been delaying their intensely anticipated new album for several years now. The part that stings is how gloriously the show started. Isaac Brock went all-in on opener and crowd-favorite “Cowboy Dan,” a classic Mouse track from Lonesome Crowded West (arguably their best record in an undeniable catalog). The execution was flawless, and Brock’s assembled players were more than admirable. The show was well on its way to grabbing a spot on my short list of best shows of 2014 … until everything imploded.
The sound was nearly inaudible for much of the second half, especially during personal favorites “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes,” “Trailer Trash” and “Heart Cooks Brain.” The result was a cacophony of noise. The crowd was spirited, a mix of longtime fans and rowdy younger fans moshing and crowdsurfing up front. The overwhelming chatter was expected, considering the normal selection of bands that usually play the venue. The biggest disappointment was the supporting band that Brock assembled for this most recent stretch of shows. They appeared overmatched by the songs, played off key and off time, and lacked the enthusiasm of their band leader. I’ve seen Modest Mouse many times before, and this was easily the biggest letdown of those performances. Instead of a night on the sun, we were treated to satin in a coffin.
[photo courtesy of Cooldad Music – www.cooldadmusic.com]