Sasquatch 2013, Day 2: Modest Mouse

photos by Matthew B. Thompson (view set)

Seven years without a new album. Nearly biannual membership shuffles. Repeated reports of studio sessions without any release. For a minute, Modest Mouse looked like they might have been heading down the lucrative but artistically fruitless legacy act path that a few of their contemporaries are starting to follow. But when they arrived on the Sasquatch stage for their fifth appearance (and second headlining slot) at the festival, they played with the resolve to prove that they aren’t resting on their laurels. Even if the band’s latest album, Strangers to Ourselves, hasn’t received the warmest reception, Isaac Brock and co. are more muscular than ever as a live act – the band are currently a nonet – and it immediately showed during their heavy, borderline mean-sounding performance. The opening barrage of “Dramamine”, “Lampshades on Fire”, “Doin’ The Cockroach”, abd “The World at Large” showed off the new lineup’s ability to add depth to both atmospheric and thundering moments, and Brock, a notoriously grumpy figure, even seemed to be in good spirits. (At least that’s what his garrulous monologues about talking, complaining, and sunburns, implied.) When the band walked onstage to the sound of prerecorded thunderstorms, they seemed to be sending a signal that they would follow Sleater-Kinney’s uncompromising approach to headlining Sasquatch, but it turns out that stormy malaise is Modest Mouse’s key to reaching a massive crowd. Judging by the cigarette-smoking, sardonic grin on Brock’s face, however, he figured that out long ago.

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