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Modest Mouse w/ Mason Jennings (Sunday, February 27th, 2005, First Avenue, Minneapolis)
Modest Mouse at First Avenue. Photo copyright 2005 by Jayme Halbritter of Jayme Halbritter Photography (used with permssion)

By Emily Hanson

Arriving at First Avenue Sunday night for the All Ages Modest Mouse show, I was greeted by a line that stretched to the doors of the 7th Street Entry. As I stood in the ever-growing queue, I felt a little apprehensive about the show; would the entire audience, which had now reached Hennepin Ave with twenty minutes until door time, be there only to hear “Float On?”

The underdressed for the weather young-uns possibly caused my apprehension, or maybe it was the insane volume of yelps and screeches from the crowd waiting to get in.

I entered the club to find that opener Cass McCombs had cancelled. I was disappointed, but at the same time knew this meant I would be seeing dream boat Mason Jennings that much sooner.


Mason Jennings took the stage around seven p.m. and played for a solid fifty minutes. This was my first time hearing Jennings live, and having heard nothing but praise regarding his live show, he had a lot to live up to. Situated at the front of the stage, Jennings stood on the far right, next to drummer Brian McLeod and bassist Chris Morrissey. His presence intimate, he made direct eye contact with the audience, all the while maintaining an innocent smile that seemed to emanate sheer happiness.

You could feel a sense of hometown pride from both the audience and Jennings. After the first song he said, “It’s good to be home guys!” which couldn’t have been more genuine in delivery.

Jennings set was diverse, ranging from slow songs of love and longing to fast rigid ones full of fuck you’s. A memorable moment was when he played “California” and he and bassist Morrissey sang perfect spine chilling vocal harmonies with delicate passion.

He ended the set with “Godless,” which built up multiple times within the song to finally hit an oh so satisfying climax. There couldn’t have been a more storybook ending to the set; his band engulfed in the moment and energy as Jennings belted it out at the top of his lungs.

Related link: Jennings Speaks Softly... article in the Star Tribune - 2/13/05


After a restless half hour of transition time, the Modest Mouse graced the stage and hit a few guitar riffs. The band kicked off their 80 minute set with “Black Cadillacs” off of their latest release “Good News For People Who Love Bad News.”

The band’s line-up changed more than Prince’s name over the course of the show (which reminds me of the perhaps ironically made remark by Brock, “So I hear Prince lives here…”)

One thing that stands out when talking about Modest Mouse is that they have two drummers. My initial instinct was that it was completely unnecessary, but as the show trucked on it turned out to be an apt addition to their sound.

Front man Isaac Brock, known for his standoff-ish demeanor on stage, held true to the band’s name “Modest.” Those familiar with the band would say his poise was brilliant and couldn’t have asked for a better show. New comers, however, might have taken it as a boring, standstill musical review of songs.

The set list was a nice blend of cuts off of releases as early as the Interstate 8 EP, up to their current radio friendly disc. The crowd exuded enthusiasm, especially during “The View” and “Never Ending Math Equation.” The band played off of the energy, occasionally losing themselves in the moment as fans added in the unscripted “Hey!” in “Trailer Trash” and feverishly jumped to “Doin' The Cockroach.”

Sunday night’s show provided evidence to counter the chatter about how horrible Modest Mouse is live. The songs were tight and on the ball, and the almost schizophrenic moods of Brock onstage kept me on the lure and wanting more.

Related link: John Bream's review of this same show in the Star Tribune

Emily Hanson is emily.hanson[at]