Written by Samuel Barker
Jul 25, 2003 at 08:00 PM
ImageWith the departure of long-time drummer Jeremiah Green and vocalist Isaac Brock doing an album and tour with his side project, Ugly Cassanova, the future of Modest Mouse seemed to be up in the air.Fortunately, the band has embarked on this current tour to build the buzz up for their upcoming album, which has yet to be named. The buzz may not be needed considering this stop at the Engine Room sold out weeks before the show took place.

Replacing Green for this tour was Benjamin Wiekel from The Helio Sequence. Also added to the tour was a second guitarist/keyboardist, who added depth to the band’s live sound. Lead vocalist/guitarist Isaac Brock seemed more willing to experiment and add a bit more lead playing to the set due to having the safety of another guitarist to fill the background.

Add to this base a rotation of guest musicians from opening band The Hackensaw Boys and the set never got a chance to stale or get boring despite the large amount of new songs introduced throughout the set.

Whether it be an addition of a stand-up bass, banjo, mandolin or fiddle, these instruments showed the band’s growth and willingness to let their songs live and breathe rather than stay in the same boring stagnation so many bands allow songs to live in currently.

Brock took a turn on banjo for a new song and bassist Eric Judy also made the rounds playing organ as well as his standard bass. These moves displayed the versatility of the musicians in Modest Mouse and their nature of experimenting with sounds.

Of course, plenty of old favorites found their way into the set. Neverending Math Equation drew fevered applause from the audience and the initial set closer, Cowboy Dan, saw Brock accompanied by the majority of the audience, who had danced all night to the newer tracks, on vocals. However, this night was for the rabid fan who really wanted a look into what the band was recording for their new album, which will be released September 1st.

Opening the show was The Hackensaw Boys. I, for one, was taken back and blown away by this band. First, it took a moment to absorb that a traditional bluegrass band was opening for Modest Mouse, but once the shock wore off, it was replaced with amazement as these guys presented a completely acoustic show (using microphones to project their sound) which bewildered or impressed those in attendance.