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BUBBLE AND SQUEAK
:: Modest Mouse ::
15 November 2004 / Academy 2 / Manchester
By Dave Himelfield

This isn’t right. Good bands aren’t supposed to get popular; certainly not bands as good as this. For anyone that followed Modest Mouse from their earlier ‘cult’ recordings this may come with equal surprise. The crowd is graded geographically according to age like a full school photograph. The front is almost exclusively occupied by emo kids some of which seem barely out of school. But this is no Jimmy Eat World. Perhaps ‘Shit Luck’’s appearance in a skateboard video could have something to do with this. There are enough cries to goad Isaac Brock into the opening riff but only for about three seconds. But have faith in these kids. They don’t just lap up everything that’s packaged properly. Oh no. Move back a few rows and the demography changes. Rarely do you see such an equal age spread. Usually there’s a cut off point in late teenhood when you dismiss the majority of your record collection as ‘kiddy music’. Modest Mouse, it seems transcend that and will continue to do so.

Why is perhaps after all, not so strange. Modest Mouse make pop tunes with intricacy and bizarre atmospherics charged sometimes to the point where a bit of pre-gig homework is required to get the most from their live experience. But this maze has dirty great rewards within and it’s a pleasure to see challenging sounds spread so far.

The bass may sound a little dull tonight rendering a few songs a little leached in the tune department but generally it’s the fantasy cake that stays on your plate even after consumption. Brock is considerably more talkative and amiable than the indecipherable ramblings of his last visit. Classics such as ‘Paper Thin Walls’ and ‘Float On’ unite all age groups into joyful movement. The younger ones dance in naivety whereas their seniors do the same perhaps longing for bit of what the former still have.

The band’s meltdown outro is the kind of clichéd annoyance that still seems to blight the ending to more than a few energised shows. It may constitute an annoying end to a great set but it also strengthens the mystique of Modest Mouse. Sometimes for ideas you just have to follow the kids.


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