Modest Mouse The Sound Academy, Toronto ON August 21
Published Aug 24, 2009Let's face it, Modest Mouse aren't a big-venue rock band. Sure, they've managed to climb the charts with blissfully sweet pop tunes like "Float On" and "Missed the Boat," but the intricacy of lush banjo parts and under-the-radar percussion makes them more suited for a small theatre or even a grimy pub to accent Isaac Brock's clever penmanship — not a huge, hollow room simply for the sake of fitting in more people.
So for Modest Mouse enthusiasts, two sold-out shows at the cavernous and uninviting Sound Academy probably didn't bring about many high fives and chest bumps. However, the sextet made an admirable attempt to shrink the room and unify the vast crowd.
When the first wavering notes of "Gravity Rides Everything" rang out, the crowd let out a collective gasp of delight. Heads bounced around and off-key singing caught like wildfire as Brock led the sing-along. During "The World at Large" a multitude of light beams floated across the stage, hanging in the air as Brock wondered "Why should I remain?" — a beautiful moment where it really felt like only a handful of people were there.
The night wasn't all sunbeams and rose pedals, though. The bass line for "Tiny City Made of Ashes" brought some groove to the evening, with the band building the back end of the song for an extended outro that really accentuated Modest Mouse's dual drum/percussion set-up.
The only real part of the night that lagged came near the end of the set (before the encore, which invariably included "Float On"). The band bridged "Spitting Venom" together with "I Came as a Rat." In true Modest Mouse fashion they elongated the songs and jammed them out, but it became more of yawn-fest as it refused to end. Aside from the faithful few near the front, most of the crowd started to lose interest — most likely wondering when they'd hear the aforementioned encore song.
Despite that misstep, Modest Mouse treated a large, diverse crowd to a show that undoubtedly pleased the fanatic and radio-listener alike.