“I sweat when I eat ice cream,” quipped Isaac Brock, the lead singer of Modest Mouse in reference to the sweltering humidity Friday night at Bayfront Park. On a co-headlining tour with Brand New, Modest Mouse took the stage first in Downtown Miami to a crowd slowly melting in the summer heat.
Taking his fashion cues from South Florida postcards, Brock came out in a turquoise Hawaiian shirt and flamingo pink shorts. Although on the road supporting 2015’s Strangers to Ourselves, the band’s set was vintage Modest Mouse; the Seattle natives aren’t flashy – there was no elaborate light show, no pyrotechnics, and no over-the-top production – they simply rely on the music to set the scene.
Modest Mouse is a band that feels like they’ve always been in their prime. They are almost boringly predictable in how exceptionally tight their performances are.
Thankfully by the time their time was up, the weather began to cool down some. Despite the madness of outdoor summer concerts in Miami, between Modest Mouse’s songs and the shape, size, and acoustics of the amphitheater, there was an undeniable coziness. Surprisingly, it may be the downtown skyline and skyscrapers hugging the surrounding area that creates such an earnest sense of belonging for the musicians, whether it’s EDM during Ultra or a jangly, indie rock outfit from the great Northwest.
No disrespect to Modest Mouse, but it wasn’t until the evening’s true stars, Brand New, came on stage, that the crowd really livened up.
About a quarter after nine, they emerged from a dense fog in a fury of howling guitars and 10,000 megawatts of electricity, emanating from their amps, the lights overhead, and the energy of the music.
They powered through classics early on such as “Millstone” and “Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades.” In addition to the raucous riffs, there were plenty of quieter moments…moments ruined by hollering frat boys and beer vendors shattering the ambiance of melancholy Brand New were attempting to create.
Despite the boozy bros and those enabling them, Brand New managed to craft a show that was at various times anthemic, heartbreaking, and extremely satisfying for the thousands of longtime fans in attendance. High fives cascaded through the stands like a wave each time the opening note of a beloved track rang through the venue. The crowd came together like a Greek chorus, helping frontman and lead singer Jesse Lacey to reach the live potential of each song.
With Brand New fans in South Florida waiting years and years for the band’s return, the night was perfect. Even when Lacey and company fucked up “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot” and instead played a buzzing rendition of “Degausser,” all was right in the world.
What this tour means for the future of the band is unclear. Rumors of their demise are almost weekly. The band is off and on again more than Rachel and Ross on Friends. Until their fate is ultimately decided, we’ll happily (morosely) blast their discography which is rapidly aging considering their last proper LP, Daisy, came out in 2009.
Thankfully, much like the concert, Brand New are like a Christopher Nolan film: complex and more rewarding upon repeated spins, flaws included. That being said, hopefully, they’ll return to Miami and other cities around the country with new melodies and mysteries to unravel.