REVIEW: Modest Mouse dives deep into its catalog at the Fox Theater

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Isaac Brock, Modest Mouse

Photos: Chloe Catajan

OAKLAND — Modest Mouse took the Fox Theater stage to sound clips of birds chirping and rainfall, and the roars of a sold-out crowd.

The Northwest indie rock greats broke into “The World at Large,” a staple off Good News For People Who Love Bad News. Modest Mouse approached the melody gently, emphasizing the song’s vulnerability of feeling aimless. Then came a surge of energy during the outro, embellished by a viola and an amplified breakdown. The sonic burst worked perfectly as the band transitioned to “Cowboy Dan,” a twistedly tinged tune off 1997 LP  The Lonesome Crowded West.

Isaac Brock, Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse performs at the Fox Theater in Oakland on May 24, 2018.

Singer-guitarist Isaac Brock pointed out a fan’s striped T-shirt, commenting on how eerily similar it was to one he owns.

“It’s nice to be here—well, for us,” Brock continued his banter, as if it were only the band that felt that way.

Jokes aside, Modest Mouse’s appreciation for its fans appeared evident. Beyond the constant interactions, there were subtle moments where guitarist Jim Fairchild or violist Lisa Molinaro would scan the venue, wide-eyed, taking in the cheering crowd.

While hits like “Dashboard” elicited excitement, deeper cuts like “Never Ending Math Equation,” “Doin’ the Cockroach” and “Perfect Disguise” were met with appreciation.

The band covered a lot of sonic ground from throughout its six LPs and six EPs, as members hopped on and off stage with different instruments. There were as many as nine members on stage at one point, some playing the tuba or the trumpet on “The Devil’s Workday.” Brock made a number of instrument changes as well, switching to the acoustic guitar for “Blame it on the Tetons,” and the banjo for “Autumn Beds” and “King Rat.”

The Portland band capped the show with a lengthy encore, featuring songs like “3rd Planet,” “All Night Diner” and “Ocean Breathes Salty,” before ultimately concluding with “The Good Times are Killing Me.”

Mimicking Birds

Mimicking Birds perform at the Fox Theater in Oakland on May 24, 2018.

Openers Mimicking Birds kicked the evening off with a dreamy indie rock set. The fellow Portlanders took the stage with “Dead Weight,” a 2015 single. After a quiet start, the song gradually unraveled into a winding, pensive melody that became a consistent theme during the band’s performance.

“It smells good in here,” singer-guitarist Nate Lacy joked.

Hues of blue and purple illuminated the stage, which felt fit for the band’s contemplative energy. While some songs like “A Part,” picked the pace up a bit, Mimicking Birds maintained a strikingly calm disposition throughout its set. The band’s music was peppered with nuances revealed through subtle sonic trills, like the slight crescendo of cymbals or faint harmonies. Mimicking Birds concluded with popular single “Sunlight Daze.”

Follow editor Chloe Catajan at Instagram.com/riannachloe and Twitter.com/riannachloe.

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