Review, photos: Modest Mouse plays deep cuts at the Masonic

Modest Mouse

Photos: Gary Chancer

SAN FRANCISCO — Modest Mouse mixed new and old material throughout the band’s two-hour set Saturday at the Masonic, but the final setlist left some fans wanting more. The show concluded a two-day tour in the San Francisco Bay Area.

After opening with “Dramamine,” followed directly by “Lampshades on Fire” and “Missed the Boat,” the band was feeding off of the fans’ energy. Modest Mouse is known for its funky ’90s beat meshed with electric guitars to create a unique sound that has resonated since 1992. Some of its best-known work continues to escalate the noise and tension, and that element just wasn’t there at the Masonic. Songs like “Dashboard,” off 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, and “Coyotes,” off 2015’s Strangers to Ourselves, felt muted when performed live. 

Halfway through the show, there was some comic relief. Frontman Isaac Brock had a bandage on his left arm to cover an open infection. While he was playing “The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box,” the bandage came off and rested on his leg. Band members quickly started creating an arm cast that wouldn’t fall off.  

Modest Mouse took a 25-minute break to prepare for the encore. The audience was left sitting there waiting for the band members to return. Some left before the band came back out to the stage. During the delay, white noise (the sound of rain) was being blasted into the speakers to either calm the audience down or keep the attention on the drumset. When the band finally returned, all the momentum from the first act was completely gone. 

During the surprisingly long 35-minute encore, the Modest Mouse’s setlist didn’t sync up to what some may have expected. Songs like “The World at Large,” “Fire it Up” and “3rd Planet,” were left out. Many were presumably hoping “Float On” was going to be saved for the encore, but it didn’t make it either, which further added to some frustration.  

The encore started with “The View,” off 2004’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News, then transitioned to “Gravity Rides Everything” from 2000’s The Moon & Antarctica. The show ended with “The Good Times Are Killing Me,” a song about how the good times can be just as debilitating with the pleasure they bring. An odd choice, but it encapsulated the night.

Mattress, the name for the solo project of Rex Marshall of Portland, opened the show wearing glitter and dressed in a silver jacket and pants. His set consisted of electronic goth music, including opener “How Many Tears.”

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