Melodic whistles and Isaac Brock’s punctuated vocals filled The Anthem as Modest Mouse opened to a buzzing crowd last Tuesday, August 17. With the show being the first return to The Anthem since the pandemic for many in the audience, myself included, opening with their wanderlust song “The World at Large,” appeased the aching restlessness for live music that’s been craved for well over a year.
While still in the early phases of the semi-return to normalcy, attending a concert felt surreal. The necessary — and appreciated — vaccine requirement and negative Covid test checks prior to entering brought a sense of reality. But once inside and enveloped in a masked crowd dancing to upbeat rock, the pandemic woes melted away [Ed. note: The concert was prior to The Anthem’s updated policy announcement of only accepting full vaccination proof to be admitted, starting October 17].
In a moment of sincerity between a guitar switch, Brock emphasized the shared sentiment of returning to live performances once more.
“I like being here,” Brock said. “I’m not trying to pander, but I sincerely like being here.”
A fixture of indie rock since the early 2000s, Modest Mouse’s setlist incorporated songs from their first to most current album, “The Golden Casket.” With a wide repertoire to select from, the chosen songs incorporated their quirky sound and consistent jubilant underlying tone.
As the concert progressed, the band ramped up to their harder rock songs with the crowd each time matching the energy whenever the tempo sped up or a guitar solo emerged. Even as some of the more intense melodies played, a repeated hopeful lyric or syncopated beat would offset any darkened mood.
One lyric that stood out in particular was from “Wooden Soldiers.” Brock repeatedly sang, “You just being here being you’s enough for me,” over a hypnotic melody. It echoed his earlier candid statement. There was a mutual gratitude between the audience and band to be in each other’s presence again.
Towards the end, the audience’s enthusiasm bubbled over to five minutes of cheering and encouraging not one, but two encores. The band’s endurance withstood the ecstatic crowd as they played seven additional songs, including their most recent hit “We Are Between.” With the energy pulsating in the air, and reverberating between the band and audience, Modest Mouse’s final song of the night marked the end of the beginning: concerts in D.C. are back.
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