Concert Review: Brand New & Modest Mouse

Brand New and Modest Mouse make for an ideal live performing pair in the year 2016. They have enjoyed similar trajectories and are both representative of American popular music. They both originated in the same sweet-spot centrally located between mass appeal and sexily subversive messages and sounds. Brand New did it with heavy whiny emo affectation and Modest Mouse with a gentle folk sensibility. Both bands have enjoyed a mainstream popularity by appealing to the vast swaths of suburban kids, all equally dissatisfied with the unabashed vapidity of corporate pop music and all host to a vague desire to belong to some kind of subculture. Both bands mobilized them en masse for their own popular success, paradoxically contributing greatly to the rote sameness by which they and their fans were originally so disgusted. Modest Mouse reached an unprecedented level of success for their sort of sound, and has become something of a paragon for popular alternative bands. They were one of the first real car-commercial-indie bands of which we now see an abundance. Today they are both now subject to their first waves of nostalgia, and to see them perform together today is to see one of the first candlelight vigils for the official passing of the 2000s.

A concert cannot be deemed a funeral just because a band is no longer in vogue; plenty of artists perform well past their heyday without being subject to this “remember when” phenomenon. This Brand New and Modest Mouse tour is ultimately a nostalgia tour for the 2000s because of the bands’ similarity to each other, their former selves and to their fidelity and conformity to the emotive style that was so in vogue in 2005. They are both totally emblematic of their respective genres, both totally emblematic of their shared time, the two different sides to the 2005 popular ethos. Modest Mouse the well-meaning, watered-down hipster spiritual seeker, Brand New his blithely suicidal Hot Topic clad id.

The two bands had been taking turns opening for each other on this tour, luckily with Modest Mouse opening for Brand New this time. They sound the same as they always have, desperately frenetic and repetitively booming. The songs still boast artfully written lyrics, but they are rendered incoherent by Isaac Brock’s raspy braying. As a whole the performance was anti-entertaining. Modest Mouse had counted on evoking pleasant familiarity by replaying the broad perky indie music they engineered 13 years ago. But they didn’t account for how exhausted the audience has since become of their brand of sticky sincerity, as a result of being subjected to it everyday by television and radio. We’ve become more numb — we are no longer so amused. These songs are much too similar to each other, the ones performed by Modest Mouse and the all the other car commercial indie songs that might have well been. By the time they got to “Float On,” one has already realized that these songs are mere jingles, not just for car commercials but jingles for themselves also, bouncy songs selling themselves to you with premeditated key changes and focus-grouped melodies. It’s more sinister than proper pop music for all its mascarade of authenticity-themed sincerity, and when stationary people pull out their iPhones to document the jingle they remember so well from middle school, it is enough to make one burn with contempt for the entire technological innovation information roil.

Brand New immediately brightened the crowd with their more recent songs, and made them giddy with their older songs. Jesse Lacey sung with a sophisticated gravely dark tone, eschewing his baby whine of yore, and Vincent Accardi wriggled around charismatically, all playing very loudly. The whole thing was a well-executed attempt at appearing tough, but the sexy image was compromised once they reverted to their older hits, which are far too pouty for anything like believable badass-ery. In the end, both bands did a nice job of giving the audience what they so sorely missed. It seems that even the most vapid music can enjoy some level of nostalgic fondness if you only wait a few years.


Rating: D
Date: 7/26/16
Location: Sleep Train Ampitheatre
Image Courtesy of Tiqiq

17 thoughts on “Concert Review: Brand New & Modest Mouse

  1. Well, people here are being far too mean. I went to this tour and I personally liked Brand New better than Modest Mouse but thought both did a fine job.

    As for this review, I would say it’s alright for a college concert review. Is it trying too hard? Yeah, it is. Does some of it not really align with itself? Sure. Does the whole thing have a certain air of “the wrong generation” syndrome? Certainly. But seriously? Y’all are going wayyyy too far. Constructive criticism is one thing, but weird sexist “butt checks” line or calling the author a “douche” really doesn’t help anything. Maybe Susie is new at this. Maybe she’ll get better at this. Maybe it doesn’t actually impact any of you and you’ve become numb to the fact that there’s a human being on the other side of the screen.

  2. It was well written, and you’re absolutely entitled to your opinion. Don’t let the assholes from Reddit get you down.

    1. It was not well written, it was written by a drunk thesaurus. Opinion sure, but why not have someone who has heard the band more than once or is a fan write the review? Because let me tell you, as a fan, this tour has been my favorite so far…

      Additionally, Nostalgia? Brand New has changed their sound every year, and this year was no different. They sounded unique, even though they played their stuff.

      Reading this drivel was painful, not just as a fan, but as a speaker of the English language. Susie honestly should not write more reviews. It’s just fair, if you’re bad at your job, you don’t get to keep it.

  3. Do you really have to be that way about it. Just because you aren’t into that, it doesn’t mean you have to put every big word you can into your article just to sound like a major tool. Reviews are about whether or not a band performed well, which they both did. It’s not about whether or not the writer hates the music. Get a life.

  4. My personal favorite line is “paradoxaly contributing to the rote sameness by which they and their fans were originally so disgusted.” In my experience at concerts by these bands and similar is that these shows tend to bring together the greatest variety of people I’ve ever seen in one room. I attended an earlier concert in this tour, and I was honestly astonished at how many different types of people were there. There were bros in tank tops standing next to frail alt kids tatted head to toe. There were J Crew prepsters dancing in time with people who look like they live out of a 60s VW. There were conservative churchy looking kids singing along with people with what appeared to be satanic tattoos on their faces.

    At my show Modest Mouse was one of the worst live bands I’ve ever seen, and Brand New was mediocre, but this review sounds like the writer wrote it after reading the Wikipedia page for the two bands and watching a couple of live videos. The superlatives desperately need to be replaced with substance.

  5. Susie, stick to your day job. Not only is your review bad because of what you’re trying to convey. The actual writing of it reads like a college student trying way too hard to sound eloquent.

  6. Susie, I can say with several degrees of certainty that you are trying way too hard to sound academic in your writing. It’s okay if you didn’t enjoy the show and it’s just fine if you don’t enjoy these two bands, but for pete’s sake, please just write a decent, unbiased review. Here, I’ll provide a short example:

    Brand New and Modest Mouse, two American Rock bands who gained notoriety in the early 2000s, went on a co-headlining tour this summer. During the show I attended, Modest Mouse headlined. Unfortunately, the indie rockers, though enthusiastic and professional, suffered from a muddy sound so characteristic of arena shows. Still, it didn’t stop the crowd from enjoying some of the band’s nostolgic hits, such as “Float On.” Things changed dramatically when Brand New hit the stage. Jesse Lacey’s voice has matured into a Bruce Springsteen-esque gravely tone over the years, adding character to some of their earlier hits. Indeed, every song was a sing along for the attendees, even the newer material with a very ‘In Utero’ grunge sound. These bands might be a trip down nostolgia lane for some, and no, they aren’t perfect live, but they do give it their all. If you can get past some of their earlier work, there might just be a hidden gem waiting for you to discover. Regardless, these are two bands whom you must see.

  7. I’m pretty sure this author knows next to nothing about either band and didn’t bother to do her homework on the subject.

  8. It’s embarrassing how much the author of this article wants come off as if she knows more than the reader, when ironically this is the most out-of-touch, off-base article I have ever read. After using a bunch of grandiose words as if she just found them in the dictionary, she then makes a bunch of generalizations about the bands and subculture that are either untrue or from 2003. The author also makes statements about the band as if they’ve only heard two songs top from both bands prior to the concert, then proves it by citing “gentle folk sensibilities” to Modest Mouse’s fame. It appears that the author isn’t really trying write an article here, they’re just getting their rocks off by talking down to the subject and the readers. In the pursuit of self-perceived journalistic credibility, the author has truly made themselves the face of pseudo-intellectuals everywhere.

  9. Although based on the prior comments here it would seem this need not be said; alas, I will say it anyway: you, sir, are an uninformed douche.

  10. Just because you are trying hard to sound intelligent doesn’t mean you have to be snarky and condescending.

  11. how the hell is this a nostalgia tour? MM just put out a new album not long ago and Brand New is coming out with one this year? you’re an idiot.

Comments are closed.