It was rush seating on the floor to see Modest Mouse, one of the most celebrated US indie bands in recent memory, whose fans are split over their older, more intimate material versus the MTV-friendly direction of their last two albums.
I left the house around 6:30 pm, and after finally parking a bit further away than I had hoped, I joined the line up of around 30 people. The last time I checked online, the show was not sold out, but the 1646 seat venue did apparently run out of tickets. I struck up a conversation with Sean, a young bearded free spirit, originally from Winnipeg, who was based in Taiwan, teaching English and pursuing work with local Asian rock bands. It's always fun to speak with someone as passionate about music as I am, since you can learn about other cool bands to check out.
Finally, the doors opened and I made my way right to the front of the stage, to park myself in row 1. Sean tracked me down and sat beside me, while hoping that his girlfriend would find us, which she eventually did.
Right away, the young fans began to stream to the front of the stage to see the opening band, Love As Laughter. They sounded like any number of melodic indie bands and could go on to bigger things. I will be checking them out.
Nothing could have prepared the audience for the next band, Philadelphia's Man Man. Wearing a uniform of white t-shirts with sweat bands, these guys were part musical act and part performance art, a modern day vaudevillian group.
They were very spastic, with the lead singer / keyboardist jumping around and yet managing to play in sync with the other band members who were bashing out syncopated, frantically paced pop. At one point, all members started playing kazoos to the delight of the audience. The lead singer threw something towards the bassist who batted it into the head of the drummer. Far from seeming out of the ordinary, this was just par for the course with these wacky musical pranksters.
During one of the numbers, the sound changed for the better, with a fuller bottom end. This was due to the two Modest Mouse drummers sneaking onto their kits and pounding away with Man Man. The drummers, dressed as ghosts in white sheets, injected even more excitement into the show and fans went nuts due to their surprise appearance. As much fun as they were, I can't help but wonder that they will have an intense but very limited appeal. People who are into Frank Zappa might want to give them a try.