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The peculiarity that surrounds the music Modest Mouse makes is undeniable. Their catalogue contains an array of songs draped in multifaceted bombast, layered melodies, and infusing ominous lyrics. It is why 2004’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News led the Washington natives to meteoric mainstream consumption that followed them a decade later to Strangers To Ourselves, their sixth album. Their effortless eclecticism extends way beyond their track listings. Last night at Boston’s sold out Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, frontman Isaac Brock bravely wielded his banjo and embarked with his band on a journey of a performance.
To be fair, the evening didn’t start off that weird. “King Rat” kicked things into high gear as Brock joked he could barely see the crowd. “It’s so foggy here—Boston’s a foggy place. Are you really out there? I have no fucking idea…I can hear you but I can’t really see you.” “Pups to Dust” was fraught but uplifting; “Lampshades on Fire” stomped and howled all over the damn place. A few seconds of “Bukowski” morphed into “Satin in a Coffin,” and Brock took us straight to church. All of his feverish preaching through ‘Coffin’ was countered with fans savoring every note, belting out “God I sure hope you are dead!” with disturbing excitement. “That’s a very spirited song, and it’s not very pleasant. You wouldn’t want to date it,” Brock relented.
It was one of his more decipherable moments of the night. He bafflingly mumbled in between songs, with topics ranging from how he was learning to properly roll his r’s when he spoke because he ‘wanted to be real fucking fancy’ to waking up in the parking lot behind the venue the night before. But even those travails seemed logical in comparison to what he was about to do next: bring two live lobsters onstage that he pardoned himself from eating. While audience members looked on in utter confusion, Brock was more concerned about the difference between a harbor and a bay—he wanted to make sure he returned the creatures to their proper home. His rambling didn’t completely deter the band from finishing a powerful set. “Float On,” “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes,” and “The Good Times Are Killing Me” possessed a disruptive kind of grandeur that were borderline ear-corroding. Brock may have come across as a bit eccentric, but it made for one hell of an affair.