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Modest Mouse shakes it up at the Grand Sierra Resort (photos)

By Nick McCabe

On occasion I embark on an adventure and go to an artist’s show who I know absolutely nothing about. That was the case with Modest Mouse last week. My son, Jacob, encouraged me on this one, so he was my date. 

Modest Mouse lead singer Isaac Brock on the downbeat May 20, 2022 in Reno, Nev. Image: Nick McCabe / This Is Reno

All I knew of them was their 2004 hit, “Float On, but I didn’t even know the title. This was a grand adventure in GSR’s Grand Theatre that paid off.

Modest Mouse has proved to be one of the most successful indie rock bands working today. I heard influences of Talking Heads in them, as well as some Cajun sounds that reminded me of New Orleans or bayou country. They have a very rhythmic and percussive sound to them. 

Lead singer and founding member, Isaac Brock, has a quirky voice that shouldn’t work, but it works quite well. 

The stage setup had drummer Jeremiah Green right up front to the left, which is an unusual placement for a drum riser – no doubt due to him and Brock being the only two remaining founding members of the band. 

With percussionist Ben Massarella positioned up and behind Brock, landing him in many of my Brock photos, I couldn’t help but notice the variety of his percussion instruments and a couple unique items he played, such as what looks like an ice bucket, and also a barrel like you would get at a Home Depot, filled with some rattly bits, that he would shake and roll around.

After an opening band, followed by a long delay punctuated with chants of “Modest Mouse,” many puffs of weed, and lots of spilling beer, Modest Mouse finally came on stage at about 9:30 p.m. The theater was about three quarters full and it took no time at all for the crowd to show their enthusiasm for the Mouse.

…frequent in the minds of modest, mouse-coloured people who believe genuinely that they dislike to hear their own praises…Virginia Woolf

Not recognizing anything I was hearing, I just listened with open ears and an open mind. I found the songs to be refreshingly unique in their construction and rhythms. The sound was great. At two points in the show, however, Brock stopped the band mid-song, saying that he had “fucked it up.” Ringo even stopped his band one time the last time I saw him, but twice? (I’ve heard things!!!).

Midway through the set things really started to pick up with “Doin’ The Cockroach” and the temperature kept rising from there. It was very much a jam band kind of crowd with lots of fun and dancing going on most of the night. The pit was open so there was lots of craziness down there. To my left was a row of about 8 to 10 girls who were frequently all up dancing. 

The only real bummer was the traffic in the aisles. People could not seem to stay put. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people with a need to get up and leave their seats and then return. Back and forth, back and forth. 

With the policy at GSR that you can only access the pit floor down the side aisles, people were constantly trying to get the security person to let them down the steps at the end of the middle aisles. After what had to be an unintelligible conversation with multiple hand gestures, the guests would do the walk of shame back up the aisle to head to the side aisles. 

Modest Mouse at Grand Sierra Resort May 20, 2022 in Reno, Nev.
Modest Mouse at Grand Sierra Resort May 20, 2022 in Reno, Nev. Image: Nick McCabe / This Is Reno

All this activity has a much more intrusive impact on the audience’s ability to enjoy the show than my presence as a photographer during the first few songs.

Maybe GSR should have signs at the top of the aisle, or a message that displays on the giant video screens pre-show saying, “FLOOR ACCESS VIA SIDE AISLES ONLY.”

After Modest Mouse finished their set it was almost ten minutes before they returned for a four-song encore. All in all, it was a great show. It ended at about 11:30 p.m., so it was a good entertainment value too. Would I do it again? You bet!

I ran my mouth off a bit too much, oh, what did I say? Well, you just laughed it off, it was all okayModest Mouse (Float On)

The Band

Isaac Brock – lead vocals, rhythm and lead guitar
Jeremiah Green – drums, percussion
Tom Peloso – upright bass, bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, fiddle
Russell Higbee – bass guitar, rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Ben Massarella – percussion, effects
Simon O’Connor – lead guitar, backing vocals

Set List

Night of the Sun
We Are Lucky
Bury Me With It
Gravity Rides Everything
The Sun Hasn’t Left
Doin’ The Cockroach
Pups to Dust
Broke
Leave a Light On
Float On
Bukowski
Satin in a Coffin
Fuck Your Acid Trip
Satellite Skin
Wooden Soldiers
Encore:
Back to the Middle
Lampshades on Fire
Never Fuck A Spider on the Fly
Parting of the Sensory

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