Fillmore Miami Beach
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Better Than: Getting caught in an actual pit of rats.
Scurrying like buzz-hungry rodents to the sugar nozzle, Modest Mouse fans cheerily clawed and crawled through the Fillmore Miami Beach, searching for the perfect spot in which to nest while waiting for Isaac Brock and his band to begin making noise.
The show was sold out. The clock was ticking toward 10. But the roadies were still fiddling with Brock and crew's setup. So cigarettes were shared. Half cans of PBR were spilled. And weed smoke wafted up toward the old theater's ceiling in fat, lazy puffs.
It's been six years since Modest Mouse released its last studio album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank.
But this band's backers are patient. They are prepared to stoically bide time, even a decade, till Isaac Brock is finally satisfied with a new batch of 12 songs. So smoking and drinking and getting high for another half hour was no big fucking deal.
"Dude, we're going to see Modest Mouse in Miami," a burly, bearded guy marveled. "That's like spotting a cartoon character in a whorehouse."
The wait for Modest Mouse wasn't much longer, though.
By ten minutes after 10, the theater had gone dark. The gas-station lighters went up. And the cell phones started to flash.
There were hollers and whistles and whines as the Fillmore's sell-out swarm of fans pogo-ed and roiled and whirled in anticipation of the night's first thrilling clash of guitars, double drums, bass, keys, strings, and human screams.
"Fuck modesty!" some drunk punk chick squealed, giddy for the arrival of her favorite band. "We are mice!"
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The crowd noise surged and hushed and swelled. And then Brock strode out, as if he were rushing to a street fight, while the fans rattled the floor, chairs, balcony.
The Modest Mouse leader strapped on a guitar, pushed his face to the mic, and howled: "Travelling, swallowing, Dramamine!"
Bundled in a coat and wool beanie, Brock looked like he'd come straight from the Northwest, even though he and Modest Mouse were actually arriving from muggy, swampy New Orleans.
They rollicked through "Ocean Breathes Salty." And he had to yank off the hat, smoothing back his sweat-wettened hair.
They pounded through new-ish, unreleased song, "Be Brave." And he had to peel off the buttondown, airing out his armpits.
"So you guys don't wear jackets and stocking caps down here?" he snickered. "Weird."
On top of refusing to adjust their wardrobe to our city's subtropical climate, Brock and Modest Mouse also flaunted their unwillingness to cater to Miami and the modern world's simple-minded fiending for live-music spectacle.
There were no fancy lighting rigs. Or LED screens. Or lasers. Just a band and a black, stripped-down stage, occasionally filled with a red glow, soaked in blue light, flooded by flashing white.
Meanwhile, Brock and crew played whatever songs they wanted in whichever order they wanted, from 2004's "The View" to 2007's "King Rat," 1997's "Trailer Trash," the also new-ish, unreleased "Shit in Your Cut," and last decade's "Dashboard."
The message: Fuck rehearsed rock circuses and the standard setlist.
Of course, though, Isaac Brock and his band have never been humorless. Even with all their uncompromising grit, punk attitude, and vicious sarcasm, they'll still get goofy and shout out your local party rap legends.
"Are there any members of 2 Live Crew in the audience?" Modest Mouse's leader joked, punctuating the one-liner with a severely understated thrust of the groin.
"This seems about the number of members and dancers they had," he deadpanned. "I'm glad you all could make it."
Hell yeah, they all made it. And they all stayed to close down the Fillmore too.
Modest Mouse played till 11:30, finishing with the quiet "Custom Concern" before waving goodbye and leaving to change out of their sweaty, climate-inappropriate clothes. But the fans, reverting into buzz-hungry rodents, demanded "One more! One more! One more!"
A minute passed. Five minutes. Then ten. And there was actually a point when the crowd seemed half-convinced that the encore request wouldn't be heeded. But that's when the band crept out from the shadows and smoke, tossing off four straight songs as things finally flew into full frenzy with the mosh-inducing, mid-'90s alt-thrasher "Shit Luck."
"It's been nice playin' for y'all," Brock remarked at about midnight, saying a second goodbye and inviting everyone to keep breaking the rules till sunrise.
"After this, we're gonna go get kicked out of the hotel pool. And then we'll get kicked out of the ocean. And then if there's something bigger, we'll get kicked out of that too."
Modest Mouse's Setlist:
-"Ocean Breathes Salty"
-"Satan in a Coffin"
-"I Came as a Rat"
-"Perpetual Motion Machine"
-"Shit in Your Cut"
-"Gravity Rides Everything"
-"Tiny Cities Made of Ashes"
-"Fly Trapped in a Jar"
-"Fire It Up"
-"The World at Large"
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-"Heart of Mine"
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