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Monday, June 25, 2012

In Which I Went To The Modest Mouse Concert And All I Got Was This Bewilderment... And A Contact High

Okay, so this was my weekend in a nutshell: up at 2:30am, work until 12:30pm, attend my sister's retirement party at 2pm, volunteer at the Summer Music Festival at 4pm, high-tail it to town for Modest Mouse at 8pm, home at 11:58pm, pass out at 12:10am, curse at alarm at 4am, work from 5am-1pm, stop at the grocery store, make broccoli salad for graduation party on Sunday because I have no plan-ahead sense, go to a different graduation party, collapse for one hour, go to card club at 6:30pm, pull in the driveway at 11pm, to bed at 11:30pm, set the alarm clock ablaze at 5:30am, drag my butt to work by 6:45am, go directly to ANOTHER graduation party directly after work, drink, eat, play corn hole, go to bed at 9pm to wake at 2:30am and start the entire mess all over again.

My wounds are self-inflicted.

Needless to say, I'm fried. There's a popular phrase "I'll sleep when I'm dead." At this rate, I give it about two years before I take the big dirt nap. There's also a term "PACING" with which I need to become more familiar.

But I digress from the topic at hand...

Some days there are too many terrific things to do in Pittsburgh. Saturday was a perfect example. Our kick-ass public station, WYEP held it's free annual summer music festival at Schenley Plaza featuring local favorites Donora, Great Lake Swimmers, Sharon Van Etton and Dr. Dog.

For FREE, people. I repeat... FREE!

the lone dancer kicking the jams to Donora

casey hampton of Donora
she of the very gifted vocal chords

outsiders think pittsburgh is a gloomy mess
this sky right here, this sky has been here
nearly every day since january
suck it, haters

This event is always a blast. Last year Fitz and the Tantrums blew everyone away with their over-the-top energy. I have a soft spot for this festival. The first time I had the pleasure to stand in front of my fantasy husband and fall in love with all his/their Old 97's awesomeness was at this event. The scene of the crime, so to speak. Patient X. I owe them a debt of gratitude for sparking that particular fire in my soul.

a rare occasion where murry is sans spectacles

geo and i are in the adoring crowd
listen... you can hear the birth of my obsession

le sigh
As if this par-tay wasn't enough to get the slouches off of their couches, Modest Mouse was heating up the North Shore with a sold out show at our newest outdoor urban arena, Stage AE. My faithful concert buddy, Mary Ann came along for the ride. After sitting through hellish traffic tie-ups (there was also a sold out baseball game next door to Stage AE. the Pirates are above .500. WTH, y'all? It is end of days, fo sho.), we met up with my delightful young friend, Annie. Annie is another very happy by-product of my Old 97's obsession. We met in a raging summer storm several years ago at an Old 97's outdoor show. We shared a bottle of wine, sang ourselves hoarse, danced our butts off and have been friends ever since. She's whip-smart, funny and a pleasure to be around. She's awesome.

redheads rockin'
The patio was already packed to capacity when we squeezed our bad selves into the center of the sea of youngsters. Yeah. Mary Ann and I were definitely in the "you brought your Mom?!?" category. In fact, an exuberant toddler wearing a bright red and black checked skinny tie standing in front of us looked at me and asked incredulously, "Are you here to see Modest Mouse?" like I took a wrong turn on the way to the fucking Kenny G concert and somehow feebily wandered in. To which I said, "Pfffft. Yeaaaah, Muthafucker. Now pass me the GD weed."

Ok, that last bit was in my head. Anyway, he did give grandma here a big high-five. He did not, however,  pass me his weed. BUT, the group along side of us kindly made the offer after Mary Ann declared, "I smell weed!" Good to know not all youngins are stingy with their grasses. And, boy howdy, there was a LOT of spliff burning. A lot. Enough to inspire the waifish white boys to shake their asses with reckless abandon.

P.S.: Sometimes I really love young people.

I can't say the same for Modest Mouse's work ethic. They made the crowd wait for 45 minutes in the sticky heat before they took the stage. Thank God there was a relatively steady breeze or else it could have gotten ugly with all the overheated, overimbibed patrons passing out into their own technicolor yawns.

Yakfest averted.

When they finally did come out to play, the kids went nuts, singing back to them on nearly every song, dancing awkwardly, fist pumping in unison. That classic rock concert move made me laugh out loud remembering the following Blue Man Group bit on this very topic. (shuttle to 5:40 in for proper instruction)

It was fun standing in the middle of all that unbridled enthusiasm. There are a handful of Modest Mouse songs I like a great deal, (Dashboard, Float On, Fire It Up, Missed the Boat, Little Motel), but I never noticed how aggressive and shouty their songs are before now. It's like they're singing in ALL CAPS. STOP YELLING AT ME, DUDE. You can turn off the caps lock anytime. To be honest, I can't understand the lyrics without reading them, so the garbled cacophonous verses just sounded like noise.

Aaaaaaaand, I. Am. Old.

It's not to say I didn't enjoy Modest Mouse, I did. It was loud and lively and a ton of fun watching the kids pulsing in unison. What a kick that must be looking out from the stage. Towards the end of their 13 song, 70 minute master set, the crowd surfing started. There were so many kids skimming across the crowd, I lost count.

And then they left the stage with nary a word.

And we waited... and waited... and waited...

Fifteen fucking minutes later, they sauntered on stage. FIFTEEN MINUTES!!?! (SAID IN MY BEST MODEST MOUSE LYRICAL SHOUTING STYLE) That's a ridiculous length of time for an encore break, especially because we had to sit through some lame white noise tape of crickets and bird chirps and shit. It was confusing. Were they coming back? Is it over? Should we leave? What the ef? Are they getting hummers back there,or what? Is the bar stil open? Does this chick realize she's NOT in the bathroom?

Not on my shoes, Chippie. Not on the shoes.

Just when I was ready to chuck it, they came out for four more, including fan favorite Fire It Up. Instead of ending on a high note with another crowd pleaser, Float On, they finished with a somber Dylan cover, You Ain't Going Nowhere.

And then they were gone.

Just walked off without a word. No good night. No thank you, Pittsburgh. No so long, Suckers. Just... gone.

What the hell? Weird, right?

Annie summed it up perfectly by saying the finish left her filled with bewilderment.

In conclusion: I'm glad to have finally seen Modest Mouse. They were good, but I won't seek them out again. Been there. Done ... whatever that was.

Apparently, the band has had an odd history with its Pittsburgh dates. You can read all about that factoid in the PG's Scott Mervis' review which includes a partial set list here. See. It's not just this dinosaur talking through her butt.

I'm still scratching my head.

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