Despite poor venue, Modest Mouse entertains

Kevin Speirs

Modest Mouse returned to Philadelphia on March 14, unfortunately at the lackluster venue, the Electric Factory.

The tacky style, ugly scenery and poor acoustics make the Electric Factory one of the worst places to hear music, but the show went on regardless.

The opening act was California-based Japanese Motors, who ended up sounding like a group of 13-year-old kids, struggling at their first attempts at music. The bands sloppy performance was matched by its slovenly appearance.

Sloppy harmonies, awkward stage presence and poor songs combined to make Japanese Motors one of the most forgettable bands I have ever seen.

The next act, Mimicking Birds was a stark contrast to Japanese Motor’s awfulness. A three-piece group from Portland, their gloomy folk resulted in an interesting, thought-provoking performance.

Lead singer Nate Lacy’s voice was soft and emotional, and the drummer was having as good a time as I have ever seen on stage, which is always enthralling for an audience member.

Their performance was solid and enough to make the crowd remember who they were for the right reasons.

After an unsurprisingly long wait Modest Mouse finally made their way to the stage, with lead singer, Isaac Brock positioned on the right side of the stage.

Opening with “Dramamine,” they made it clear that the set was going to be unusual and interesting.

While Isaac Brock was screaming, “We kiss on the mouth but still cough down our sleeves,” he teetered on the verge of insanity. Johnny Marr acted as the perfect contrast to Brock, coolly strumming his guitar on the opposite side of the stage.

The performance had no shortage of highlights. “Doin’ the Cockroach” was an energetic fit, bouncing back and forth between melody and dissonance.

The crowd shouted along with Brock, matching his seemingly unmatchable passion.

The song “Tiny Cities Made of Ash” grooved and rocked for over six minutes, with the bass line pulsating through the crowd as heads bounced and nodded to the steady flow.

Shortly after they began to play “Custom Concern” and halfway through a verse, Brock looked to the band and said, “I actually don’t want to play this song that much.” It was an unusual, but funny turn of events.

“Spitting Venom” was a surprise because of its long length, but it turned out to be the perfect way to end the set.

The soft strumming verse into the powerful, angst-filled chorus culminated beautifully with the melodious ending.

For the encore, Modest Mouse gave the entire crowd an undeserved treat by playing “Jesus Christ Was an Only Child,” a song that has not been played since 1998 in Chicago.

The encore continued with “Paper Thin Walls” and “Night on the Sun.” The band finished off with “The Good Times Are Killing Me,” which turned into an ironic happy sing along with the entire crowd bouncing and singing “The good times are killing me,” over and over.

Unfortunately, the crowd seemed to be reminiscent of the band’s fame found from 2004’s “Float On.”

These audience members did not understand the full depth of Brock and his band’s discogrophy and only wanted to hear the songs that gained Modest Mouse fame.

The only downside to the set was the abundance of songs from “Good News for People Who Love Bad News,” but that is what the rest of the crowd wants to hear, so they did their job.

Even though the band was dealing with a varied crowd and a terrible venue, Modest Mouse managed to give everyone their money’s worth, and then some.

The performance was passionate, skillful, and satisfying and asking for anything more would be rude.