I shamelessly love Modest Mouse. Over the past two decades, they have created incredible music. Due to my rather taste in music that was rather, how shall I say, lacking substance, I did not discover them until after the release of Good News For People Who Love Bad News. "Float On," the first single, stood out from others I heard on the radio. It was different. It had bounce and substance, and had a unique sound. I loved it. Unfortunately, I did not pursue it at the time. Like any other naive, impressionable teenager, I fell in with some bad folks. As in bands.
A few lucky breaks and I would've been listening to more music from bands like Modest Mouse, Interpol, and Silversun Pickups. Unfortunately, those breaks never came. I left the straight and narrow path for the enticing evils of *shudders* the scene.
Thus did I spend my high school, with bands like Underoath and Atreyu (who are actually alright), blessthefall (eh...), and Alesana and Escape the Fate (That hurt, please don't judge me. Also, Kayla, if this is too elitist, I apologize. It's not me, it's the little hipster inside me.).
After high school though, things started to change. I started reading reviews for new music, searching other genres, and learning more about music. I happened to stumble upon a review for Modest Mouse's album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. I was intrigued. The review was excellent (I think it was on AP.net), and it reminded me of that one song I used to love.
And so it was that I was at Walmart, my employer (again, please don't judge me, money is money), browsing the terribly sparse music section. And their, in front of the little white card with a big MODEST MOUSE across the top, were the remastered version of Moon and Antarctica and a copy of Good News For People Who Love Bad News. I picked up Good News, and a fanboy was born.
The music was so much different than what I had been used to. Trippy vocals, wild horns, and so much more personality and variety than I was used to. I read up more about the band, and quickly snatched up Moon and Antarctica and We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. I loved all of it, and proceeded to pick up the rest of the discography.
After many spins, a good amount of time, a good deal of thinking and studying, my opinions of the individual albums began to emerge (My impression of the band was a done deal. I was smitten.). The Moon and Antarctica was an immediate mind-blower. Long Drive and TLCW were growers, but did they ever grow. Good News remained a solid favorite, though it was quicly caught and passed by the earlier albums. Building Nothing Out of Something is possibly the best B-sides album I have ever heard. I loved it all.
Unforutnately, We Were Dead and No One's First started to grow off (What would you call those? They have to have a name, right? Shrinkers? Can I copyright that? Stay on track!). They just didn't have the staying power. They weren't sellout albums, but they were accessible to the point of losing that Modest Mouse charm that gave their music its lasting power. They were too easy, too forgetable. Besides The Whale Song (easily the best song they've released since Good News), I hardly ever listen to them anymore. I just spin TLCW or one of the other earlier albums.
And this is where the pain comes in. I love Modest Mouse. They have inspired me and given me some of the most beautiful music I've heard. Two masterpieces and others close to it. But... that is in the past. And while I refuse to get too upset (it's still good music), it's subpar. But The Whale Song gives me hope. It's got the more poppy, accessible feel of their newer music, but it has a stronger, more unique sound. The music is emotional, enjoyable, and meaningful, and the vocals are appropriately downplayed, but urgent. It's an incredibly beautiful song. More importantly, it gives me hope that the future of Modest Mouse isn't just more "Dashboard."
With this convoluted and disgusting expression of my bittersweet love do I kick off the countdown to the Modest Mouse show Friday. I am both scared and excited about what it will bring. Will Isaac Brock and co. blow me away? Will they play new music that is just a recreation of Dashboard? Will I be raped by a horde of bros drunk on natty ice? Stay tuned.
I've been brainstorming about my first tattoo. With music basically being the focal point of my life, something band-related is an obvious idea. After much thought, I have decided to go with a mewithoutYou lyric for my first tattoo.
Why mewithoutYou? Because they are a deep, incredible, intelligent band that truly moves me.
Why a lyric? Because I can't really think of a simple symbol or picture that represents mewithoutYou. Also, they're lyrics are incredible.
Anyways, these are the lyrics I have picked out to mull over. They are not necessarily all of mwY's best lyrics, but they are some of the more fitting one's to be used as a tattoo for me. All of them come from the albums Catch For Us the Foxes and Brother, Sister.
My life is a cup of sugar I borrowed before time began and forgot to return.
However much you talk, however well you talk,
You make a certain sense, but it's still only stupid talk.
However much I strut around, however loud I sing,
The shining One inside me won't say anything.
I threw a small stone down at the reflection of my image in the water,
And it altogether disappeared.
I burst as it shattered through me, like a bullet through a bottle,
And I'm expected to believe that any of this is real.
All things lovely only hurt my head.
So turn your ears, you musicians, to silence,
Because they only come out when it's quiet.
What unseen pen etched eternal things on the hearts of human kind...
But never etched them in our minds?
-My Exit, Unfair
Oh, but I'm so small I can barely be seen! How can this great love be inside of me?
Look at your eyes, they're small in size, but they see enormous things!
-Four Word Letter (Part Two)
Oh but I'm too tired, I won't last long.
No, He'll use the week to overcome the strong!
-Four Word Letter (Part 2)
Grape on the vine, grape on the vine,
We've been alone a long time.
Grape on the vine, why not be crushed to make wine?
-Son of a Widow
Pay no attention to me dancing with my girl
With evvery intention to be failures in this world.
-Son of a Widow
Such distance from our friends, like a scratch across the lens,
Made everything look wrong from everywhere we stood.
-Messes of Men
I'd never want someone so crass as to want someone like me.
-Messes of Men
Lord I could never show you anything as beautiful as you.
-Messes of Men
A glass can only spill what it contains.
-A Glass Can Only Spill What It Contains
It wasn't an end, it wasn't a beginning, but a ceaseless stumbling on.
-Nice and Blue, Part 2
The sun and the moon, I want to see both worlds as One!
-The Sun and the Moon
Find a friend and stay close, and with a melting heart,
Tell them whatever you're most afraid of.
-The Sun and the Moon
The sun and the moon are my Father's eyes.
-The Sun and the Moon
She hurried on her little way,
And scurried 'round my mind,
Still there's a whisper in my ear,
The voice of loneliness and fear,
And I say "Devil, disappear!"
The bird that plucked the olive leaf,
Has been cirlcing like a record down the spindle of my mind,
Where the needle's worn the grooves too deep,
And scratched the wax that's blistered from the heat besides.
-In A Market Dimly Lit
Your flavor in my mind goes back and forth between
Sweeter than any wine and as bitter as mustard green
Light and dark as honeydew and pumpernickle bread
The trap I set for you seems to have caught my leg instead!
-In A Sweater Poorly Knit
You're a door-without-a-key, a field-without-a-fence
You made a holy fool of me, and I've thanked you ever since
If she comes circling back, we'll end where we'd begun
Like two pennies on the train track the train crushed into one
But if I'm a crown without a king, if I'm a broken, open seed
If I come without a thing, I come with all I need
No boat out in the blue, no place to rest your head
The trap I set for you seems to have caught my leg instead
-In A Sweater Poorly Knit
A lot to sift through, but they're all so good. We'll see what happens.
First, a bit of history (taken from Bled Fest’s myspace):
“Bled Fest is in its 6th year. Short for Big Love’s Educational Festival, Bled Fest was started by Ben Staub (aka Big Love) as a house show in 3005. The event outgrew his basement, and in 2007 was taken to Skateland West. Black Dahlia Murder headlined to almost 1500 people. In 2008, Bled Fest returned home to Livingston County, where Gwen Stacy headlined, and then in 2009, Whitechapel headlined to a record 1789 attendees. In 2010, Bled Fest will continue to be a showcase of incredible local talent and some of the hottest cutting-edge national acts, continuing to diversify with new genres being introduced. Not just a metal festival, fans of all varieties of music will find something they love at Bled Fest 2010!”
Alright, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way instead of coming up with a half-decent introduction, let’s get to the 2010 show itself. While the promise of “new genres being introduced” is a bit scary (coughwarpedtourcrunkcorecough), Bled Fest delivered with a solid mix of hardcore (Trash Talk, Misery Signals), punk (Polar Bear Club), and indie/emo rock (The Felix Culpa, Balance and Composure) that had something for everybody. There was also a solid mix of great local bands (La Dispute, Brothers, Your Best Friend) and bigger national acts (Polar Bear Club, Misery Signals, Strike Anywhere). Unfortunately, I was not able to see every band, or even half of them. Despite this, I will do my best to recount the atmosphere and performances.
Bled Fest took place in the Hartland Pac in Howell, MI, with two main stages in a gym right next to each so that the main action would never stop, along with two hallway stages and a classroom stage that provided more intimate settings.
I’ll run through the first half of the day quickly, as the main action didn’t start until relatively late. Local acts abounded early on, giving me a chance to get a look at the Michigan scene. Saginaw pop punk act Act As One put on an incredible live show, connecting really well with the audience. Embracing the occasional improvisation (part of a cover, random bursts into “screamo”) they were entertaining even if one wasn’t a huge pop punk fan. Chicago metalheads Monsters and death metal outfit Within the Ruins both provided incredible, energetic shows. Despite having no idea how any of their songs sounded, the breakdown-heavy music was easy to lose my mind to.
Armana Reign and In Fear and Faith were two bands that failed to impress me. Everyone else looked like they were having a good time, but the Armana Reign’s clean vocals were painful and the music seemed very cliché. I felt I missed out somewhat on IFAF, as the vocals also grated on me, whereas if I was a fan I feel I would have enjoyed the show.
One of my favorite shows of the day was that of local hardcore act Brothers. Their incredibly loyal fan base showed up ready for action, and the result was intense show that featured the singer being draped in fans much of the show (but still killing it). Another cool set was that of Koji, who’s acoustic sit-down set was an interesting (but not at all unwelcome) change from the norm.
It was around this time, about halfway through the day, that bands that I easily recognized started to show up. Balance and Composure and The Felix Culpa both had strong sets full of honest enthusiasm for what they were doing, and I would highly recommend both bands to everybody. Misery Signals and Strike Anywhere both put on strong performances, but I was not able to get too involved due to the fact that I was waiting eagerly for these next two sets.
La Dispute had a monster of a set. Michigan’s darlings (the way girls drool over Jordan is ridiculous) brought on of the largest, if not the largest, crowds with unfathomable amount of passion. Positioned close-to-the-front-and-center, I received the full experience. The horde of people behind, fervent as they were, immediately pushed forward so hard the first rows of people spilled onto the stage and remained there for the entirety of the first song. The rest of the show played out in much the same way, with absolutely no room to move but nobody caring. We didn’t care that it was a frotteurist’s dream.
La Dispute and gave it their all, and we responded in kind as we matched Jordan word for word as the rest of the band played their hearts out. It was incredibly show, and every fan walked away happy. A few of the band members even stuck around for a few minutes to shake hands and talk a little even as they had to make way for the next band, which just goes to show what great guys they are.
The final set I saw (I had to miss Polar Bear Club) was Trash Talk. Now I had heard great things about Trash Talk, but I had never really listened to them or heard about one of their lives shows. I was completely unprepared. Trash Talk lives to give an insane live show, and they are really damn good at it. With diehards moshing, sprinting, stage diving, slam-dancing, tackling the lead singer, and everything else they could think to do, all with a complete disregard for safety, it was one of the most intense shows I’ve ever had the privilege of being involved in. As the band finished off the set by climbing on top of the 6ft+ tall speakers, I left convinced I had found one of my new favorite hardcore acts.
And that was the end of Bled Fest (for me). I am covered in bruises and I’m not sure my right knee will ever be the same again, but I definitely would have done it again, and hopefully will next year. Anybody in the southern Michigan area should make it a point to check out this festival (only $15 presale, $20 at the door for 10 hours of nonstop concerts).