I went to the Tabernacle in Atlanta on the 7th of March as a late birthday present to myself. I had never seen my favorite band in concert, an unforunate tradition that has haunted me for years with many bands. Too bad I didn't live on the west coast in the late 90s; I could have seen them when they had more heart and less members.
The openers were fucking amazing. Japanese Motors was a mixture of OK Go and something more subtle that I couldn't quite put my finger on, maybe Dashboard? No, probably not, but they had a lot of adolescent energy and the only bad songs were when the vocalist actually put his guitar down and tried to belch out lyrics. It was fine, but they played better as a group.
Mimicking Birds were terrific. There is this new sound now, reminiscent of The Beach Boys, that lost art of the harmonic, multi-vocalist band that has to pay close attention to every little sound. Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket have been popularizing the sound for a few years now, and the Birds are going to fall right into line. I dont know how much they will revolutionize the sound, but they will definitely add to it.
Then came Modest Mouse, that epic indy group from the greatest musical city in the nation. The opening chords of "Paper Thin Walls" sparked an energy from the sweaty, smoky crowd that even I didnt expect. A giant organism of convulsing teenagers, hopping up and down in time to the upbeat punk songs, and then swaying gently to the slower, hallucinogenic tracks. The band, though, seemed distant, indifferent, performing its task in a very perfunctory way. The connection that I have made to Isaac through the years by listening to every album over and over again was severed by seeing him in real life and not getting the same experience. The band's image is still holy in my eyes and Isacc will continue to be one of my lyrical heroes, but the feeling of completion that I anticipated did not arrive. As it turns out, my favorite band just isn't a good live performer anymore. However, considering what they have given me on their albums, I can live with that.