Posts Tagged ‘modest mouse’


Pitchfork Festival 2010

August 5, 2010

I went to the Pitchfork festival in Chicago in July. I saw many shows, most of which were great. On Friday, El-P rocked the mic hard and kicked off my festival experience with a bang. The surprise success of the day was Robyn, who’s energy onstage is contagious. She had the whole audience moving, and she proved that pop music can have a place in an indie festival. This is where the story gets sad; I decided to skip Broken Social Scene because I wanted to get close for Modest Mouse. I figured I had already seen them live and presently have a ticket to see them in DC in the Fall. Expect coverage of that show when the time comes. Modest Mouse played a fairly short set, drawing material mostly from their recent career. Their stage presence is undeniably electric; they kicked off the set with the epic Moon & Antarctica highlight “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” and from the beginning had everyone in their pockets.

Saturday was the weakest day of the festival, but it still had some great shows to offer. Real Estate and Delorean were early beach-pop highlights, and Kurt Vile rocked hard with his energetic backing band The Violators at stage B. Despite some technical difficulties and a wack DJ, Raekwon put on a great performance. He mostly played older material from Enter the Wu-Tang and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, which he delivered with great enthusiasm. Also, he had breakdancing children, and you can’t say no to that. I really liked The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion even though I don’t know them that well. I give major props to artists I don’t know who really impress me. They had unprecedented energy and put on one of the festival’s better rock shows of the weekend. Wolf Parade were also great; they played “This Heart’s On Fire,” which pretty much made my day. Panda Bear, as expected, put on one of the weirder shows of the weekend, complete with electronic noise, sampling collages, yelping and crazy visuals. Amy liked it a lot, but I couldn’t quite make heads or tails of it. I really like his more melody-based songs, but at it’s heart his set is about as strange and hyper-modern as it gets. I did like it, but I wasn’t quite sure why. Maybe that counts as a victory for Noah Lennox.

Sunday was without a doubt the strongest day. We started off seeing two Chicago bands, Alla and Cave. My old co-worker Jorge is the lead guitarist of Alla, and it was awesome seeing him and his band up on stage making a wonderful racket, with long, exciting progressive passages and a soulful latino flavor. We also really enjoyed seeing Cave at stage B, who’s long psychedelic jams sounded awesome in the shade of the trees. Next we lined up for Best Coast, one of the bigger buzz bands of this year. Their set was enjoyable. They played most of their more popular songs, clinching with “Something in the Way.” We stayed around and watched a bit of Washed Out‘s set, and then headed over to stage C for Beach House. They played beautifully as usual, and even drew on their back catalog quite a bit for numbers like “Master of None” and “Heart of Chambers.” And of course their newer songs all sounded great, especially “Used to Be.” Next up was Lightning Bolt, easily one of the crazier shows of the festival, as well as one of my favorites. The two Brians played fiercely to a moshy crowd. It was both technically impressive and energizing to hear the noise kings doing what they do best. After that, we got some dinner then headed back to stage A to wait for Major Lazer, which was arguably even crazier than Lightning Bolt. It was probably the most extreme set of the entire weekend: there was excessive alcohol consumption, dry-humping (the kids call it “daggering” these days), Chinese dragon costumes, ballerinas, lots of booty and of course Diplo’s awesome dance music. I didn’t see anything this weekend that was more involved; it was a blast. Finally, Pavement took the stage, and everyone couldn’t have been happier to see and hear them. They looked like they were having a blast, and their energy translated to their music very well. I could start firing off all the songs they played, but there’s no way that would do justice to the setlist. For me, “Gold Soundz” was the magical moment. It felt like the whole festival was leading up to this, and they couldn’t have done better.

I took a bunch of photos of the fest, and these are some of the better ones.




Modest Mouse (sorry about the heads and poor lighting- it's tough to take pictures late at night)



The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Wolf Parade

Panda Bear



Best Coast

Washed Out

Beach House

Lightning Bolt

Major Lazer

Pavement (again, sorry for the poor quality)

I’m heading off to Lollapalooza tomorrow, so expect some kind of coverage of that, too. I’ll also update soon on some of my favorite new music. Till then, au revoir!


Chicago Music Festival Report

April 14, 2010

In 2008, I went to a single day of the Pitchfork Music Festival and all three days of Lollapalooza. In 2009, I did the opposite and went to all three days of Pitchfork and a single day of Lollapalooza. This Summer I’m happy to say I’ll be able to do all three days of both. I have my lovely grandmother who bought me Lollapalooza tickets a a surprise.

A dramatic reenactment of our phone conversation:

“Grandma! Those tickets must have been awfully expensive!”

“Oh, don’t worry, I’ve been saving up quarters.”

Anyway, I thought I’d give my two cents on both festivals’ lineups.

Lollapalooza has ace headliners this year, and they’ve got the goods to call on legions of rock ‘n roll fans throughout the country.

The more mainstream leaning headliners are very strong. Soundgarden is this year’s alt-rock headliner, and the festival’s older devotees and 90’s rock fans will jump to see one of the band’s first reunion shows. Green Day, though they have lost some indie fans since their glory days, have more than enough star power to fill a stadium, and they will probably change the face of the crowd this year. But the real game changer this year, on a brilliant booking move by Perry Ferrell is the pop juggernaut Lady Gaga, who will sell thousands upon thousands of tickets for Lollapalooza. She’ll attract pop fans, preteens and hipsters alike. It stands that not many, if any other festivals have the means or the balls to pull this kind of headliner.

The indie rockers will be drinking tears of joy this year based on the presence of The Arcade Fire alone, who are due for a tour and a new album. They have been out of the live circuit for a while, but they are more than strong enough of a band to make the headliner slot. The Strokes are also a dazzling attraction. Like the Arcade Fire, they’ve also been out of commission for a long time and they’ll enjoy widespread excitement and ticket sales in response to their headlining spot. But the year’s left field headliner is Phoenix, who due in large part to their 2009 album “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” have skyrocketed to the top of the indie food chain, and this slot will be great for Lollapalooza as well as Phoenix, who will consequently get a huge crowd and massive cred regardless of who they go up against in the lineup.

There’s more than enough other shit to keep just about everyone shelling out cash for at least a one day ticket:  Jimmy Cliff and Devo for the older crowd, Slightly Stoopid for the hippies, The Black Keys for the blues fans, AFI for the emos (they’re still around?), Erykah Badu for R&B and funk fans, and Social Distortion and Gogol Bordello for the punks. Perhaps more importantly, there is a large selection of big indie names on the lineup: The New Pornographers, Spoon, The National, Hot Chip, The Dirty Projectors, Yeasayer, The xx, Stars, Matt & Kim and, my favorite, The Walkmen.

Lollapalooza may have a lot of great acts, but Chicago’s biggest indie festival The Pitchfork Music Festival is comparable if not greater in terms of amount of sheer talent.

As with previous years, there is a whole slew of artists at the Pitchfork Festival that you won’t be able to see in too many other places this summer. From the start, Pavement was the festival’s big seller, probably being the major reason that three day passes sold out within the week they were available. The band have reunited for a tour in support of their compilation album “Quarantine the Past,” and we all couldn’t be happier to have the chance to see them live. The other two headliners, Modest Mouse and LCD Soundsystem, are also sought after bookings this Summer, and they sealed the deal.

But there is much more to rabble about beyond the headliners. Wolf Parade, Liars, Broken Social Scene and St. Vincent are also strong sellers. Other stuff you’ll hear me making noise about: Sleigh Bells, Alla, Kurt Vile and The Tallest Man on Earth.

The festival’s hip hop lineup this year is as strong as it has ever been, featuring the likes of Raekwon, Big Boi and El-P. You’ll see me in the crowd for all three.

There are some other very special acts that you probably won’t be able to see in many other places this Summer, particularly Robyn, Panda Bear, Dam-Funk, Major Lazer, and Lightning Bolt.

In terms of the past year’s up and coming Beach Pop scene, Pitchfork has nearly half of the major bands covered: Beach House, Delorean, Real Estate, jj, Girls, Neon Indian, Surfer Blood, Best Coast and Washed Out will all make appearances, plus the likes of Local Natives, Free Energy, and The Smith Westerns, who are though not exactly beach pop are closely related in style and popularity.

Lollapalooza will always have the capacity to bring together acts that will sell hundreds of thousands of tickets, and still have a strong selection of indie bands on tap. Though smaller and more geared towards a specific crowd, The Pitchfork Festival’s lineup this year has finally matched Lollapalooza’s in terms of sheer talent and diversity. We’ve got two great major music festivals lined up for the Summer, and I’m excited for both.


Off This Century – My Favorite Albums of 2000-2009

December 25, 2009

Three Modest Mouse Reviews

May 28, 2007

Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West

Arguably their most popular album, The Lonesome Crowded West is one of Modest Mouse’s singular masterpieces and still sticks today as a memorable statement of the 90s. To say it is perfect is not accurate, as there are some songs that simply lack in comparison to the others, but the whole of what the album says more than justifies it. Beyond making an album full of memorable hooks and rocking jams, The Lonesome Crowded West speaks the voice of middle America, and all of it too. The trashy, the suburbanites, the city slickers, the smart, the dumb, the lovers and everything in between. Sometimes the album rocks out really hard, especially with Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine and Cowboy Dan, but the music serves itself best when it plays specific roles. Picture taking a wrong exit on the highway and ending up in bumblefuck Mississippi. Yeah, your mind might be reeling through Jesus Christ Was an Only Child. Then try picturing yourself in High School, chilling out on a hot evening with some friends on your back porch while the sun sets over the dirty highway and the streetlights just turn on. This is the cool urban Heart Cooks Brain. I think people could make a case for many songs like Doin’ the Cockroach and Trucker’s Atlas that I’m not so hot on, but in any case most everything here is good. The clear high point is Trailer Trash, an anthem for the ages, and the final three songs that turn everything else about the album inside out and resolve everything absolutely perfectly. A classic, and just as good as the record that would proceed it.

Modest Mouse – The Moon And Antarctica

No one will pretend that The Moon And Antarctica isn’t a dreary, exhausting listen. While The Lonesome Crowded West flowed, had some pop gold, and was an all around fun album, The Moon And Antarctica delivered more quality music at a completely different angle. This album is simultaneously introspective and existential (whatever the hell those mean), and demands close attention and an open mind. Like The Lonesome Crowded West, this album is poetic and has many underlying themes and questions asked, but instead of being deceptive about them and using irony to get them across, some of them are pushed to the front while others are mysteriously obscured. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the album is the sheer execution and the ride that it takes the listener on. The first four songs are happy, relaxing, folky rockers, the first two of which are simply perfect and some of the best the band has ever written. And then the fifth song, Tiny Cities Made of Ashes, drives the listener into unexpected curious panic, and then plunges them into four melancholy masterpieces. A personal favorite song is the next one after the long epic The Stars Are Projectors. Never has a song been as subtley destructive as Wild Packs of Family Dogs, let alone dreamed of doing it in less than two minutes. The finally, the mood bounces back and weaves back and forth for the last five songs, ending the album on a completely inspiring note. All this is done while delivering the same catchy, wonderful melodies Modest Mouse is good at, musing with great lyrics, and simultaneously introducing a new expansive sound. The biggest problem is lack of accessibility, but in that way the album ends up being more fun and inspiring upon every listen. For catchy, upbeat tunes one will want to look back an album, but this is just as essential. This remastered reissue is rounded off perfectly by four BBC session takes (Custom Concern is just as good as many songs on the album) and more fitting cover art, making the perfect asset to any casual or high profile fan’s library.

Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Truly an album that gets more shit than it deserves. Although Good News may not be quite as consistent as Modest Mouse’s other work, it is still a darn good album and a great addition to the bands catalogue. The indie nerds will complain that this was the sellout point of the band, and really that might be true, but the sales of the album are irrelevant in the face of the fact that this is simply quality music. So despite the fact that Float On got significant radio play, it is still one of the best tunes that the band has ever written. So my advice to listeners would be to throw everything that anyone ever told you about this album over their shoulder and listen to this album with a fresh ear, because good things will surely come of it. No one will pretend it doesn’t have less strong moments than The Lonesome Crowded West or The Moon And Antarctica, but one would be hard pressed to follow up two grand albums with something that matches them. Some of the albums better moments are the albums first four songs (excluding the two interludes, obviously) and the last three, and while everything sandwiched in between isn’t quite as good, the ends justify the means. It builds it’s personality only marginally, but Good News For People Who Love Bad News can be a very good sunny pop album that has some of the bands absolute best songs. It’s hard to say if this is a good place to start… If you are only going to get one or two Modest Mouse albums, the two that preceded Good News are far more essential, but for people who are willing to dig in for a while, this might be a good launching point. Another good album by Modest Mouse, probably the third best.