Reviews

Modest Mouse + Camper Van Beethoven

Lou Friedman

Isaac Brock's face was a scowl. Anytime you can see him restricted in some form or fashion you know he's bound to he unleash it...

Modest Mouse + Camper Van Beethoven

Modest Mouse + Camper Van Beethoven

City: New York
Venue: Central Park Summerstage
Date: 2005-06-20

Modest Mouse
Camper Van Beethoven
There's nothing like being in the middle of Central Park on a clear, comfortable night, hanging out in a sold-out Rumsey Playfield (the actual name of the place where Summerstage is located), geared up for an evening's entertainment. Camper Van Beethoven just completed a 50-minute set, twisting various genres to meet an alt-country-rock theme, and as the night grew darker one of the most successful indie bands of 2004, Modest Mouse, took the stage with no introduction. But something was not quite right -- the look on band leader/singer/guitarist/banjoist Isaac Brock was a scowl. Why? Seems he was told before he took the stage that in this particular part of New York City, there was a limit as to how loud the band could play. He was also told the "decibel police" would be monitoring, just to make sure that he and the band stayed in range. Brock let the sold out crowd know about this before striking his first note of the night. He mentioned the scenario once more during the band's 75-minute, 16-song set, but otherwise, not another word was spoken on the subject. The winners in this scenario, believe it or not, were the members of the audience. Those who chose to concentrate on the action on stage (rather than constant stream of gab with friends), were rewarded above and beyond the usual. Translation: one of the tightest sets the Mouse has played live in quite a while. There was anger in Brock's voice and singing, and more importantly, there was focus. It was as though if he wasn't allowed to be loud, he was going to be SOMETHING -- and that something turned into one of the year's best performances. The perfect opener for a pissed-off band was "Bury Me With It" from the monster album Good News For People Who Love Bad News. In fact, the band incorporated eight songs from the album into its set - half the show. Of course, "Float On" was done (fifth song in), but the back-to-back banjo-dominated "Satin in a Coffin" and "Bukowski" were also dominant parts of the set. But of course, there were songs the Mouse did BEFORE GNFPWLBN, and those who were into the Mouse from the get-go were rewarded with gems like "Breakthrough", "Paper Thin Walls", and the show closer, a nasty, chilling rendition of "Doin' the Cockroach". The band was Army bunk-bed-made tight, and though there was looseness to the songs, it never veered into sloppiness. All in all, anytime you can see Brock restricted in some form or fashion, he unleashes in another way, usually to the benefit of his audience. Now is the time to see the Mouse -- they're at their highest level of stage shows at this point... metaphorically speaking, of course. Opener Camper Van Beethoven reformed in 2002, after the various members drifted off to do their own thing. Led by the crazy, smarmy (in his between-song patter) David Lowery, the band played a fierce set, incorporating tunes from last year's concept album New Roman Times with classic favorites -- of course, the set closer was the audience sing-a-long, "Take the Skinheads Bowling". Lowery did get a bit too pretentious in his monologue to the fans, but his voice was crisp and the band's playing was sharp throughout. It would appear that they're going to stick around for a while, and that's a good thing. One suggestion: see them in a club as a headliner, because very few people on the Modest Mouse side of things in the crowd bothered to stop chatting and listen. If only the decibel police were around when you needed them.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image