Memorial Day Weekend in Asbury Park had a loaded cityscape with a variety of live music scattered around the boardwalk and dive bars. The city has centered its glorious rebirth around live music and the hodgepodge Saturday night was a perfect example of why Asbury Park is a great place to experience. Within a half mile radius, there was close to a dozen bars featuring live music acts with genres ranging from hip-hop to electro-jazz fusion and rock and roll.
The focal point of the action was Modest Mouse‘s return to The Stone Pony Summer Stage. The Cribs opened the show with their crunchy rock and roll until Isaac Brock and his veteran band jumped onstage to showcase their latest album, 2021’s The Golden Casket. The prolific songwriter rifled through his extensive repertoire to chisel out a tasty selection from over the years.
Going old school out the gate, Modest Mouse launched into “3rd Planet”, the opening track off 2000’s The Moon & Antarctica before following it up with “Fuck Your Acid Trip” off their latest release. Aware of his location, Brock and company appropriately dished out the nautically themed “Missed the Boat” and “Ocean Breathes Salty”. With the Atlantic Ocean only a block away from the stage, the smells of the salty tides combined with the mélange of boardwalk eateries to tempt the audience’s olfactory senses as the band and sunset stimulated hearing and sight. (“The ocean breathes salty, won’t you carry it in? / In your head, in your mouth, in your soul”).
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To follow, Modest Mouse performed “Lampshades on Fire” and “Never Fuck a Spider on the Fly” off their last two albums before digging up gold with the old school ’97 classic, “Trailer Trash”. The band jammed out to a “Perpetual Motion Machine” tease on the way out and eventually landed into “The Tourist and the Tortoise” and “King Rat”, the latter being the only tune from 2009’s No One’s First, and You’re Next album.
After returning to 2004’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News album with a legendary performance of “Bukowski”, they returned to their most recent release with a frantic, up-tempo run through “Japanese Trees” (“Lay it on heavy like it’s sand on the beach”). Two more classics flowed in succession with a mellow “A Perfect Disguise” leading into the band’s most commercially successful song, “Float On”.
Performing sequential tracks off The Golden Casket, Modest Mouse followed “We are Between” with “We’re Lucky” just as they do on the album’s track listing. To wind down the extended set, the band went back in time 25 years to blow the dust off ‘97’s The Lonesome Crowded West’s “Trucker’s Atlas” and finished the set in a similar vein with 2000’s “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes”.
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For an extended encore, Modest Mouse performed five-songs and one improvisation parody that began with a sweet jam through “Dramamine”. This marked the only song off 1996’s This Is a Long Drive For Someone with Nothing to Think About album and also featured a “Life Like Weeds” outro. Returning to The Golden Casket, Modest Mouse performed the closing track “Back to the Middle” and “Wooden Soldiers” with an off-the-cuff “Advertisement Jam” parody in between the tunes.
During this improvised song, Isaac Brock’s songwriting brilliance was on full display as he rattled off tech buzzwords in a melody that appeared to be concocted on the spot. Whether or not this was prepared is anybody’s guess but I for one think that frontman walks a fine line between insanity and genius, like many great songwriters. The jokes that he was making between songs show his sense of humor and quick wit.
To end the show in raucous fashion, Modest Mouse worked through mellow “Spitting Venom” before picking up the pace into a furious rendition of “Shit Luck”, another cut from ‘97’s The Lonesome Crowded West. Following the show, the audience wandered the boards, the beach, or any of the nearby establishments that were hosting after parties. Notably among the list was Mister Tickle Hands psychedelic, electro-trance set at Langosta Lounge.
Modest Mouse shoots up to Canada before making their way back to New York City for an evening of music in Central Park next Wednesday, June 8th. For the full tour, including an upcoming European tour, click here. See you curious cats and Modest Mouse in Central Park!
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Modest Mouse – “Ocean Breathes Salty”
[Video: Marcie J]
Modest Mouse – “Spitting Venom”