Modest Mouse play the Arlington Theatre May 19, 2018
Paul Wellman

Lyrical poignancy and musical explosiveness defined the legion of songs Modest Mouse performed at the Arlington last Saturday night. Drawing from their extensive catalog, the alt-rock group radiated an early 2000s nostalgia with their edgy guitar riffs, euphoric percussion, and glistening synthesizers swirling over a booming reverb. The band trotted out songs from all of their seven albums, giving the audience a career-spanning grand tour in the space of two hours.

The setlist was composed of hits that wallow in despair, such as “Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset,” as well as intense deeper cuts like “Doin the Cockroach.” Notably absent from show was their biggest hit “Float On” from their 2004 album Good News for People Who Love Bad News. The audience belted out the lyrics — and air drummed along with actual drummer Jeremiah Green — on several tunes, including “Missed the Boat,” “The World At Large,” and “Poison the Well.”

Regarding the group’s awkward stage banter, missed jokes, and sad songs, frontman Isaac Brock stated, “For some reason it brings me pleasure to make you guys uncomfortable and sad.” For their closing song, Modest Mouse performed a riveting cover of the Pixies’s “Where Is Your Mind,” further cementing their legendary spot in ’90s rock.


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