Lindsey Best The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival kicked off yesterday…
- Posted on Sep 15th 2010 10:00AM by Dan Reilly
Alli Harvey, Getty Images
From opener 'Gravity Rides Everything' on, Modest Mouse were constantly enveloped in smoke pouring from machines behind their elaborate stage getup. The East River breeze pushed the fog out to the audience, allowing the many smokers a bit of camouflage. Musically, the band alternated between the heavy, droning 'Satin in a Coffin,' the upbeat hit 'Float On' and the softer 'Cowboy Dan,' which featured an outro that echoed out across the riverside venue.
While some casual fans might think of Modest Mouse as Isaac Brock and a backing band, the six-piece group quickly dispels that notion onstage. While Brock does get his share of the spotlight as the vocalist, it's more as if his voice is just another of the many instruments featured alongside the accordion, pump organ, keyboard, banjo, fiddle, among others, that the band used during the set. Equally impressive is the double drumming by Jeremiah Green and Joe Plummer, with the latter catching a maraca thrown by a roadie during a percussion break in 'Dashboard' then tossing it back offstage to continue hitting the skins.
"It's really nice to see you come back to our reunion show," Brock said after 'Blame It on the Tetons.' Rather than go on and on about how great it was to be back in Brooklyn, Brock then told the crowd how he, touring guitarist Jim Fairchild and one of their crew members all got haircuts earlier in the day for $14, a deal he thought was "f---ing great."
Up next, the one-two punch of 'King Rat' and '3rd Planet' drew some of the biggest applause of the night, showing that the Modest Mouse faithful can equally appreciate a banjo-fueled dirge as much as a mirthful sing-along. Later in the set, the band did a bluegrass-stomp "cover" of 'Here's to Now' by Ugly Casanova, a side project that features Brock and three other members of the band.
The band closed out their main set with a jammy take on 'The Whale Song' and the charging dance-rocker 'The View,' leaving the audience to wait while a recording of insect and bird chirps filled the air. After what felt like at least 10 minutes, Modest Mouse came back and kicked off their encore with 'Guilty Cocker Spaniels' and 'Life Like Weeds,' which to that point was the heaviest song of the night.
After the mellow 'Baby Blue Sedan,' Brock and company kicked into a blaring take on 'Spitting Venom,' the overdrive on the guitars turned up so high that it felt like the sound was ready to give out. The song bled into an abridged version of 'I Came as a Rat,' which quickly turned transitioned into the final song of the night, the haunting waltz 'Alone Down There.'
As the band walked offstage, Brock offered a final "thank you" to the audience, this time with a piece of advice: "If you're drinking, don't drive. If you're driving, don't drink."