Presently there’s a lot of god-awful music coming from the sensitive indie kids’ corner of rock (some people call it “emo”), so I don’t blame anyone whose first instinct is to dismiss Modest Mouse. Hell, I consider myself a fan, and front man Isaac Brock’s pained earnestness still gets on my nerves from time to time. A lyric like “I got this thing that I consider my only art / Of fucking people over”–from “3rd Planet,” the opening track of the band’s forthcoming major-label debut, The Moon and Antarctica (Epic)–just makes him sound like a self-defeating asshole stuck in the tenth grade. But after that shaky start, Brock’s musical intelligence takes over. Much of the band’s charm is in how the songs meander hypnotically, how the singsong choruses and dissonant guitar bursts rupture the flow and refocus your attention; even a recent compilation of B sides and rarities, Building Nothing out of Something (Up), rewards repeated listenings. Brock’s why-the-hell-should-I-bother attitude is another selling point–and his disaffection seems unchanged by the big deal with Epic. But he’s hardly without a sense of humor about his pessimism: “Watch a lot of TV / I guess that’s the solution,” he deadpans on “A Different City.” Unfortunately, such wryness is usually in short supply at Modest Mouse’s concerts, where the band’s notorious moodiness often tests the patience of even its staunchest supporters. Forget the Pavement comparisons; ladies and gentlemen, meet the new Sebadoh. This concert is sold-out. Saturday, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Pat Graham.