This summer we went to a Modest Mouse concert.
It all started as an idea born from the recognition of an ever-present shared essence between the act of sliding on snow and engulfing oneself in music. A bond founded in both activities’ ability to focus one in the moment, to expel all exterior distractions, and to let the present take the wheel. After all, that’s true freedom, right?
Freedom to live in the moment, free of stress and distractions–to honestly, really, feel something. The way that ripping through a backside carve will wash away a day’s insignificant woes. Or how a favorite song can transport you to that very particular time and place. This shared commonality is at the crux of our passions. The feeling of the moment.
Thinking back I racked my brain trying to remember how this monolithic indie group from Seattle had first worked their way into my head some 15 years ago. Was it Travis Rice’s part in Absinthe’s, POP? John Jackson in Standard’s, Notice to Appear? Was it “Shit Luck,” a semi-metal hit off of their album, The Lonesome Crowded West, which has found its place in countless skate videos? Or was it from the familiar comfort of a friend’s stereo on the way to the mountain? Regardless, the connection was there, rooted in history, character, and again, most importantly, feeling.
“No one really knew what the night had in store”
I was full of questions for frontman Isaac Brock, the perpetually self-critical recluse. In particular, I was dying for the opportunity to ask him about his fabled “dreadlock cape”. However, it was the experience, and the buzzing feeling of butterflies that took up prime real estate in my mind as I made the short walk downtown, camera in hand.
The word on the street was to not to get too excited for the show itself. Brock, an infamous drunk and a notoriously disarrayed frontman, had a lasting history of subpar performances and critical reviews. However, as a long time fan myself, I was eager to see the show regardless. I pushed on.
As is with any concert or performance, the moments leading up to the first song were filled with an anxious eagerness. Long time friends and recent acquaintances alike shot the shit and mused over what the night had in store. Modest Mouse’s most recent album, Strangers to Ourselves, had taken a heaping eight years to follow its predecessor, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. Furthermore, the group in and of itself had grown from its original three-piece structure, to a formidable seven-piece. No one really knew what the night had in store.
“It was extremely personal, yet overwhelmingly communal”
Time passes curiously in moments like these, and while I am sure reality took all of a short wait, I couldn’t help feel like I was both waiting for eternity, and simultaneously rushing through time. Finally, or maybe it was all of a sudden, the house lights dimmed, and the show began.
Isaac led the group off with their 2004 hit, “The World at Large”, and the crowd thunderously rejoiced. The show had triumphantly begun. Transported back in time to days of teenage angst and youthful crushes, I found myself immediately immersed. And it sounded good.
There was none of that, “too drunk, wishy washy crap” I had been warned about. The band was on it, and the seven-piece ensemble sounded as authentic and original as one could ever hope. A few more songs in and I was lost in the moment, forcibly reminding myself to raise my camera to fire away. And then, just as it had started, the show came to an end. My sense of time had been tossed to the wind and I wearily packed away my camera, just now noticing that I was completely drenched in sweat.
I never did get the chance to ask Isaac about the famed cape made from dreadlocks, and while Isaac and the band continued to deny all requests for interviews, I slowly came to the realization that it didn’t matter. What had mattered all along was the feeling, and sharing in the moment with every other individual present that night. Walking out of the venue had been equivalent to sharing high-fives in the lift line on a day you never hit bottom. It was extremely personal, yet overwhelmingly communal. We had lost ourselves in the moment; we danced, sang, drank, laughed, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
And maybe it is for the better that we will never know the full story behind the mystical cape of dreadlocks. I will always wonder about the length, smell, and weight of said cape, but I will also always revel in the magic of the unknown. A mystery that can wait for another time, another escape into the mountains, another night of music, and another exploration of true feeling.
Check out the Melt Down Tour dates and locations here.