Modest Mouse

(Originally Published on South Florida Insider)

Indie Immortals Stand Tall With Miami in the Face of Irma – Review of the Concert at the Fillmore (Miami Beach, FL)

Photos and Story by: Gleb Barabanov

On the eve of one the biggest storms that the state has seen in decades, a mass of hardcore fans assembled at the Miami Beach Fillmore to see their favorite band up close and personal. They weren’t going to let a silly thing like a category five hurricane steadily barreling its way down towards our fair state stop them from enjoying their night. Nor did they heed the mandatory evacuation warnings that were issued to the area in order to signal the impending danger. No, these were but small inconveniences to the devout disciples of the Modest Mouse clan who aggregated in the not-so-sunny city for their last hurrah before the hurricane.

Miami was the emptiest I have ever possibly seen it, besides maybe a Miami Heat playoff game. The usually busy city that never sleeps was a creepily empty facade, devoid of foot traffic, with most shops empty and boarded up like some sort of sneak preview of the apocalypse. The only spot of life on the barren streets was the Fillmore, filling up with eager fans clamoring for the front spot, happy to enjoy the empty roads and plentiful parking that lead them there. As we assembled to watch the opening act, a small interruption in the form of a fire drill momentarily paused the band before they began, and the venue stewards escorted everyone out for a brief moment as they waited for the shortly coming “all clear”

As the fans began to pour back into the venue, Mass Gothic, the first group to perform that night, made their way to the stage. I had not heard of this group before that night, and it looked like most of the other people at the venue were also not aware of the band, but even with a audience of people that did not know them the group did a good job of winning over the crowd. The New York based quartet were fronted by partners Noel and Jessica, who simultaneously sing and play guitar and bass, respectively. Their music could best be described as slow-paced shoegaze, with the two vocalists crooning the lyrics while complementing them with tasty guitar licks and dreamy bass-lines as an all-encompassing blue light washed over the foggy background. After a couple of songs, the group thanked the audience for their time and disappeared behind the curtain as the main event of the night began to brew backstage.

After what felt like an impossibly long wait, Isaac Brock and his gang finally appeared on stage and burst into their first song, Dark Center of the Universe. Backed by a full, six-person band, including multi-instrumentalist (and partner) Lisa Molinaro, the group proceeded to jam through some of their biggest hits from every era of their extensive repertoire. Still supporting their newest album Strangers to Ourselves, they played almost half of the album during their set, introducing the gathered followers to their first new material in almost eight years. Isaac and company employed a very interesting, colorful lighting system, using a different color scheme for every song (usually taken from the colors on the cover of the corresponding album). In between songs, Isaac commented on the hurricane situation (“Why are you all still here? I’m known for making bad decisions but what’s your excuse?”), and bantered with his band-mates in his trademark country lisp. After playing an already long fifteen song set, Modest Mouse came back on stage for a massive two encore performance of eight(!) songs, playing for almost three hours to the die-hard fans that showed up to their show in the middle of a state of emergency.