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Brand New and Modest Mouse’s final gig of their co-headlining tour Sunday night at Moda Center seemed destined to be a crooked affair simply because Modest Mouse is Portland’s hometown heros.

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Brand New had been selling T-shirts proclaiming their own demise in 2018 at the merch tables all throughout the tour as well as announcing that this would be it on social media. In addition, their backdrop featured pixelated footage of the band playing in real time intercut with grainy home-movie footage of ’50s ingenues in bathing suits, and the band’s microphone stands were decorated with a colorful array of funereal flowers—so the feeling that we were watching the ghost of something recently dead was palpable.

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They treated the crowd to some of their most popular numbers: “Jesus Christ,” “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades,” “Sowing Season.” Whenever they played a faster, more aggressive song, the crowd starting head banging, pointing to the sky, screaming all the lyrics with all their heart and soul, somehow still audible over all the shrill sounds.

Jesse Lacey paused mid-set to thank Modest Mouse and praise their fortune for calling such a great city home. It seemed like the same old cursory tribute bands always pay to their tourmates, until his voice cracked for perhaps the thousandth time that night and he seemed genuinely on the verge of real tears. “They shared their hearts with us,” he said. “I’m going home with a lot more than I started with.”

brand new jesse lacey modest mouse tour concert moda center portland oregon live music

They launched into their shamelessly romantic hit “Soco Amaretto Lime,” and grown adults everywhere felt the nostalgia of their youth. The room seems to have felt the melancholy that surged through us during our youth. That melancholy we all felt while driving around late at night, blasting Brand New.  A chorus of voices screamed the song’s coda back at Lacey as he strummed its principle chord progression and stepped away from his bouquet. “They’re just jealous cause we’re young and in love,” cried a thousand people in unison.

They broke the heavy cloud of melancholic sincerity with upbeat new single “I Am The Nightmare,” before Lacey nonchalantly proclaimed, “This is the last song we’ll ever play,” and closed with “You Won’t Know.” He then held his guitar by the neck, suspended high above his head for a moment before winding it twice, shot-put style, and threw it pretty much right at his drummer. He ripped a few handfuls of decorative funereal flora from the micstands and chucked them into the audience. He might have been crying. Audience members almost certainly were.

brand new jesse lacey modest mouse tour concert moda center portland oregon live music

Modest Mouse was its revised and well-numbered modern incarnation. Isaac Brock mumbled off-hand cynicisms and bent reverbed, tumbleweed-scoring notes. Drummer Jeremiah Green played like a jazz-enthusiast octopus with not one but two auxiliary drummers that no one—especially not someone as deft as he—would ever logically need. The entire stage seemed overpopulated. I’d say the active duration of even the most devoted Modest Mouse-enthusiast is somewhere around 12 shows. After that, you just start to feel jealous of those around you, still young and in love.

Written by-Rebecca Zisk
Photgraphed by- Nicholas Charles

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