Modest Mouse at White Oak Music Hall (10/8/21)

By: Daniel Restrepo

As the anxiously began to file into the White Oak Lawn, after hours of waiting relentlessly in Houston’s hot and humid weather, there was a certain restlessness in the air. Once inside the venue, the fans were greeted with a smokey haze that accompanied the show all night long. The intense heat, in combination with masks, caused more than a few people to step inside to feel some sort of relief. No relief could be found by removing your mask, unless it was to drink your beer, which was about nine dollars for a not so generous pour.

All of this melded to create a very antsy audience, but mostly they were happy to be back in a live music venue and ready to experience the emotions and feelings brought on by live music. Modest Mouse (MM) fans were on full-energy, screaming lyrics to their favorite songs like ‘Bukowski’ or ‘Dashboard’, but there appeared to be several casual music-goers as well, drawn in either by the opening acts, Empath or Future Islands, or like me, just an individual eager to see a show for the first time in over a year.

As MM leader Isaac Brock trotted out on stage, the crowd was welcomed with MM staples like ‘Dramamine’ and ‘Cowboy Dan’. Throughout the show, tracks from the band’s latest album The Golden Casket were rolled out, and the flashing lights that accompanied tracks like ‘We’re Lucky’ and ‘We Are Between’ sent the audience into a joyful hysteria. The band indulged some of the more casual fans halfway through by playing ‘Lampshades on Fire’, their 2014 single that I recall being played frequently on the DMV’s biggest alt-rock station, DC101, back when it was first released.

As the lights faded on their thirteen-song set, the audience roared with approval, screaming for more. The band were clearly plotting something backstage, as it took them a solid ten minutes to return for an encore. It’s not a crazy long time, but it was just long enough to make the crowd begin to wonder if they were coming back out at all to play their staple track ‘Float On’. This track is the outlier in the MM discography, for it had been responsible for introducing the band to a wider audience in the early 2000s indie rock / alternative scene. With its squawky-voiced lead singer and never-ending fan base, this band could now fill venues like The Lawn at White Oak instead of sweating it out in basement shows.

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