As a member of Moustache Salad, I go to many concerts. Bars, rock clubs, and theaters: there are many different venues to see a show, each with a certain charm. But the variation in venues seems negligible when compared to the vast differences in personalities of the concertgoers. From the 13-year-old girls at the Death Cab show to the AARP members at the Wilco extravaganzas, I encounter virtually every demographic by the time I see a couple dozen shows. However, never have I been surrounded by such a diverse group as I was at the July 1st Modest Mouse show in St. Louis. Before the show, I saw the teenagers hanging out at the front of the line 4 hours before the show started. In Vintage Vinyl I saw the scenesters buying their favorite Feist record on vinyl. And with me were a rock n’ roll die-hard, a health nut, and a Sam Beam fanatic. (Granted, I boiled my three friends down further than I normally would, but I use this illustration mainly to demonstrate the diverse group of people at this show). Before the show I pondered these differences, and how we were all united by a love for Modest Mouse.
This unification was strengthened once we were packed into the pit at the Pageant. When surrounded by hot, sweaty bodies, one must, in order to have a good time, submit to being hot and sweaty (and often the sweat is from others). This brings about a sense of community during a show. Concerts are meant to be experienced by a group of people. Whether the group is 10 or 10,000, the people make a connection with the others that can’t be broken. Not only is it music that brings people together, it is the entire experience. For example, it seemed that everyone in the audience was smoking Camel Lights. There was one kid, who was probably smoking for the first time, and he smoked what had to have been way too much for his body, because after looking nauseous for some time, he passed out in two of my friends’ arms. The health nut checked for signs of life, and then told someone to call 911. One of the bouncers picked up the kid, and took him outside. After the hustle, people went back to filling the Pageant up with smoke. Looking up, I could see the smoke from different people mingle and become one large cloud.
After watching the smoke sweep across an empty stage for an excruciatingly long time, Modest Mouse finally hit the stage. Isaac Brock came out in a Corona poncho and sombrero. He also brought out a bamboo plant. They launched into “Dance Hall” which set the mood for the rest of the show, because for the rest of the show, the pit was full of dancing. While Modest Mouse went crazy on stage, the sound guys at the Pageant must have been asleep, because the feedback was almost intolerable for the first three songs. It wasn’t Modest Mouse’s fault, but it is the only factor that keeps this show from the legendary handlebar.
Brock was the madman that he is on stage. He gripped his axe as if it were really a bladed tool. His crazy eyes would have made me turn the other way if I had seen him out in public, but in the confines of the venue, I only felt awe.
For the past month and a half, The Lonesome Crowded West consumed me. However, when only one song off LCW made the setlist (Trucker’s Atlas) I was more than content, because the energy was higher than any other concert I have experienced. Surrounded by cigarettes, booze, dancing, weed, and sweat, I could not think of a better place to be. Some unexpected highlights were “Here It Comes” off Everywhere and His Nasty Parlor Tricks and “Talking Shit About A Pretty Sunset” off their debut This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About. Also, they played the unreleased “Satellite Skin” which is a song I really look forward to being able to hear on a studio release, or even a bootleg for that matter, because it was damn good.
Apart from getting to see one of my favorite bands, there was another part of the show that I was really anticipating: getting to see Johnny Marr. I love The Smiths, so getting to see Johnny Marr was very pleasing.
Brock and the boys played the singles, which admittedly, I was dreading, but really it was fucking great. The energy hit a peak and everybody was dancing and bumping into each other. When they played the closer off Good News For People Who Love Bad News, “The Good Times Are Killing Me,” all I could think of was that kid who passed out. (He turned out to be fine, in case you were wondering). After the first set, they came back to do their encore, finally ending with “Spitting Venom,” which is the most epic track off We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank.
After the band walked off stage, the smoke hung like a shadow from a nuclear blast. Everyone walked around in awe and excitement. Laughing, smiling, and already reminiscing, I knew that we had experienced community in a great way, and that we weren’t just blowing smoke.
I give this a Fu Man-chu with sideburns (4.5 out of 5).