Double-headliner shows like Modest Mouse and Brand New seem to make sense financially. You get two bands who might not be able to sell out a venue as large as Bayfront individually, and clump them together for a big turnout, even if it is kind of weird.
On paper, Modest Mouse and Brand New together is kind of weird. The pairing seemed to be picked out of a hat, and the only similarities the two bands share are the instruments they play. The Oregon-based Modest Mouse are a quirky lot with literary lyrics and the willingness to throw an electric banjo or french horn into a song if the occasion calls for it. Brand New are Long Islanders who play a more conventional brand of wailing emo.
On each show of the tour, the two alternate in the role of opener and closer. On the Miami date, Modest Mouse got the short straw and played in the sweaty daytime, while Brand New got the darker (yet still sweaty) night slot. There was a clear dichotomy of who in the crowd was here to see whom. More people were certainly there to see Brand New. Despite that, I'd never seen more people head for an exit by 9:00 p.m. at a South Florida show. While I'm part of the contingency that would have preferred to see Isaac Brock and his eight musical soldiers that currently comprise Modest Mouse explode with the power of a thousand collapsing stars for a full three hours, there was a moment during Brand New's set that made me grateful for the diversity.
Before Brand New went into its encore, singer Jesse Lacey addressed the crowd. "Most of these songs are about people I don't remember that hurt me in high school. I don't write political songs, but I've been hurt by the events in Dallas and the killing of unarmed African American men," he said. Before playing their final four songs, Lacey added, "Be kind and extend your kindness to everyone."
Those words resonated more than any that were sung that night. With the recent mass shootings that have plagued our country, one has to wonder how that might affect concert turnout. But there was something beautiful about the fact that thousands of people ignored that and decided to gather together peacefully in the hope of dancing to a familiar rhythm, whether by Modest Mouse or Brand New.
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Maybe we need more double-headliner tours: Republicans and Democrats, cops and suspects, the zealous and the indifferent. As Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock sung Friday night in his pink shorts and matching flamingo shirt, "Maybe we'll get lucky and we'll both live again./Well I don't know. I don't know. I don't know./Don't think so."