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Modest Mouse // Live @ Bayou Music Center // 6.7.23

Article and Photos by: Ommar Ortuvia


Houston, TX — After a gray and rainy afternoon which led to an evening with temperatures considered low for what’s expected this time of year in Houston, indie band Modest Mouse made their way to Texas on their current tour to play at the Bayou Music Center – could it be that the city knew that they were going to be playing downtown and wanted to give them a little taste of home?

Modest mouse originated in Issaquah, Washington but have since claimed Portland as their home base, giving the band strong roots in the Pacific Northwest. In their lyrics you can sense a strong connection to their origins, where the dreary and gray climate can lead to feelings of isolation and melancholia with both mundane and extraordinary things. But not all is gloom and depression with their music, since the band is able to channel these words and produce something short of musical beauty, touching an emotional nerve in oneself that does not bring you sadness but instead a nostalgic happiness of sorts.

This was very evident inside the venue on the general admission floor, which was packed with fans ranging from teens to bearded hipsters to people in business casual garb, who obviously came from their 9-5 downtown to catch the band. Once Modest Mouse took the stage, the crowd channeled the emotional lyrics and displayed a different sort of energy from most concert goers. While there were the occasional fans who were all-out rocking and dancing, the majority were feeling the music by singing loudly or swaying and bobbing their heads. Visually this energy was not like moshing or slam dancing, but the intensity was just as strong.

Despite this tour having no specific name, the night’s setlist did give a nod to last year’s tour which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the The Lonesome Crowded West album by starting things off with the album’s hard hitting opener “Teeth Like God’s Shoeshine” and ending their encore set with the laid back acoustic “Styrofoam Boots/It’s All Nice on Ice, Alright,” the closer on the album. The rest of the setlist was a hodge-podge of songs from their collection of studio albums, EPs, and special releases with a little extra emphasis on 2004’s Good News for People Who Love Bad News, and the aforementioned Crowded West. After a 15 song setlist, the band played a 5-song encore which contained “Float On,” the song that made them leap to mainstream attention in 2004.

One thing with Modest Mouse is that you never know what songs are going to be played that night, since they hardly stick to the same setlist between shows, unlike most other artists. This gives them a freshness about their live sets since you might hear all your favorite songs and have a smile plastered on your face for days, or leave the venue disappointed because you only heard one. This might have been the case with some fans, since a few favorites were absent, like “Ocean Breathes Salty” (inarguably their second mainstream hit after “Float On”), “The World at Large,” and “3rd Planet.” Either way one cannot deny that Modest Mouse packs the same passion into their shows with whatever setlist gets played, and puts on a hell of a show that you don’t want to miss. They will be continuing to tour throughout the month with select dates supporting Weezer, and then in August they start another tour co-headlining with the Pixies.


PS – About 20 years ago I ended up with an unlabeled CD that became stuck in my car’s stereo, forcing listening to it nonstop on all rides. The music itself and how that CD got there was a mystery, but whatever power created that action I am truly thankful for since it provided me countless hours of a mellow and poignant music that opened my musical brain to more than the usual hard rock and metal that I normally craved. After years I finally was able to identify this mystery CD as The Moon & Antarctica, Modest Mouse’s studio album from 2000.

Ommar Ortuvia
Merging my love of music and photography, I ended up here. No soy ni chicha, ni limonada.