LIVE: Modest Mouse @ The 9:30 Club - 6/20/12

All photos by Kevin (

“Travelling swallowing Dramamine/Feeling spaced breathing out Listerine”

With those words from “Dramamine,” a track dating back to Modest Mouse’s mid-90s indie past, Isaac Brock kicked off the first of two nights of shows at the 9:30 club.  Prior to June 20th, it had been a few years since Modest Mouse made their way through DC.  This is hardly surprising - since they haven’t released a full length album since 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank – but, on that night, what they lacked in new material they more than made up for with a crowd pleasing set that combined popular new(er) tracks with fan favorites spanning most of their back catalog.

Isaac Brock performing at one of two sold out shows at the 9:30 Club

“Broke your glasses but it broke the ice/you said that I was an asshole and I paid the price”

Likely as a result of the log gap between albums, the club was filled with true fans.  Sure the ubiquitous “Float On” and radio mainstay “Dashboard” received a predictably enthusiastic response (as they should), but more obscure tracks like “Broke” and “Custom Concern” elicited similar responses from the knowledgeable masses.  Indeed, perhaps the loudest sing-along of the night was to fan favorite and longtime concert mainstay “Cowboy Dan.”

“We're goin' down the road towards tiny cities made of ashes/Gonna hit you on the face/gonna punch you in your glasses. Oh no!”

Well, second loudest anyway.  The true highlight of the set began as soon as the rambunctious crowd registered the first distinctive chords of “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes.”  With its extreme loud/soft dynamic and shouted choruses, “Tiny Cities” is the quintessential Modest Mouse rocker and it gets a strong reaction pretty much anytime they bust it out.  But this time was special.  Brock and company seemed to feed off of the excitement of the crowd, bringing an energy to the track that exceeded even the giddy highs of the rest of the evening.  It was one of those concert moments where you just turn to whoever you came with (or a stranger, or that sweaty bald guy head banging in front of you) and say “dammmmmmmmn.”

“And all the spilt milk, sex and weight/it all will fall, fall right into place”

And then came the denouement.  After so much shouting and singing, cheering and screaming, it was only appropriate that the band closed the main set with the calm (if cryptic) assurances of “Gravity Rides Everything,” bringing the audience down, tired and sweaty but still ecstatic.  While the band followed up with a solid encore, it seemed almost extraneous, like too much of a good thing (which, of course, didn’t stop anyone from enjoying it). 

Looking at the satisfied faces as of my fellow attendees as we spilled out into the sticky DC night, I think it is safe to say that, while we all want new material from the Mouse, we’ll take a show like the one we saw anytime we can get it.  Next time don’t stay away so long guys.

Don't be modest (click below) and check out the rest of our shots from the show