Unlike the majority of the crowd at the Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, I am not a recently minted Modest Mouse fan, lip synching the pop sensibilities of "Float On" or "Dashboard." Although these songs are grand, it's the old stuff -- "Paper Thin Walls," "Trailer Trash" -- that I was longing to hear at yesterday's concert. Sadly for me, I never got to hear a ton of my favorites. But the rough and tumble D.I.Y. sentiment that is now absent from current, glossier recordings was certainly found in the live delivery of new songs.
This was the most cutthroat, kickass, hardcore drumming extravaganza I've seen. Two drum kits towered over the rest of the stage, with Jeremiah Green and Joe Plummer lashing into them like a drum corps summoning the apocalypse. The sheer volume made the building shiver and your guts vibrate.
The rest of the band followed suit: Isaac Brock barked lyrics like a mafioso's guard dog; Eric Judy caressed the bass between illegal drags on his cigarette; and Tom Peloso made it memorable on violin, trumpet -- you name it. Modest Mouse newbie/The Smiths oldie, Johnny Marr, was best when he blended as the gnarly guitarist for Modest Mouse, rather than the stage right, shoulder bouncing sideshow, Johnny Marr And His Nasty Parlor Tricks.
Brock and the rest of the band shed clothing layers like dancers in a seedy strip joint. Marr lost his jacket and also his pretty boy bullshit by the end of the evening, excepting that one moment at the end where mid song he posed for the photographer on stage, a diva action that made me vomit in my mouth a little.
Overall, the show was dirty, eardrum shattering and inclusive of the disorderly sound that scored my formative disobedience -- and the contemplative aftermath. The live stuff still holds that lo fi grit, but instead of mechanical feedback, it's the griminess of mismatched instruments ripped into without grace, but with force, that holds that back-alley punch. Brock makes a banjo sound badass. That pretty much sums it up.
A brief note on Man Man: This is how bands should be. Two dueling drum kits, energy of a thousand men in a mere five, face paint, kazoos, and a ton of excitement make for a polka band on acid. Their white outfits truly symbolized the maniacs on stage. I hope these guys never find straitjackets!