“The View” from SteelStacks

From the first riff of their opener “Dramamine“, Modest Mouse tore up the SteelStacks stage at Levitt Pavillion with songs of pain, anguish, and all the demons that go along with pure unadulterated rock and roll. As frontman Isaac Brock emoted ferociously on the mic, the crowd went wild. It felt like there were 30 musicians on stage; an equally lush, layered, and tight sound.

While Modest Mouse has a large following, their music is far from the escapist pop or rock that often occupies the airwaves. On the contrary, Isaac Brock writes deep, contemplative, and dark lyrics, lyrics that dig into the soul.

Songs from throughout their career rattled off one after another, each filled with raw emotion. Highlights included “Dance Hall“, “Ocean Breathes Salty“, “Doin’ the Cockroach“, and “Dashboard“, but the back-to-back “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” and “Bury Me With It” were rivaled only by the power of a flawless and affecting live rendition of “The View“. As Brock belted out “Tiny Cities” and “Bury Me”, the veins in his neck look like their were about to explode, but it was during “The View” that the show seemed to hit an emotional peak.

The band was incredible and Brock commanded the stage. He did what he wanted and made it all look and sound good. When “Interstate 8” couldn’t get off the ground, he skipped it and had the band go right into “Trailer Trash” instead. Somehow even screwing up the beginning of a song and deciding to skip it felt like perfection; in fact, every song was perfection.

To augment the experience of the brilliant musicianship, lyrical poetry, and unbridled emotion of Modest Mouse, the venue set the perfect backdrop of historical beauty and a touch of sadness. The SteelStacks stage at Levitt Pavillion in Bethlehem is directly in front of the towering structures that once produced high quality steel for American companies from coast to coast. Bethlehem Steel was not only a company, but was the lifeblood of the region; today those stacks and the abandoned buildings that surround the stage on either side are what remains of the former giant of industry. The melancholy, yet grandiose, backdrop presented Modest Mouse in a setting seemingly built just for them.

In short, if you missed this show, you missed something special. While the band passed on playing their biggest hit (“Float On“), perhaps it was for the best, the concert goers didn’t need some misplaced optimism thrown in the mix when the theme of the night was quite obviously to the contrary. A truly powerful evening of music, ambiance, and emotion.

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  1. Pingback: Modest Melancholy | The Farsighted

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