Two epic but very different series came to an end on Friday night, as Modest Mouse ended their two-night concert set at the Crystal Ballroom amdist the final playoff game of the Portland Trailblazers' match-up against the Houston Rockets.
After an opening set by post-hardcore band Survival Knife (a talented act, but perhaps a slightly unusual choice given the crowd), Modest Mouse came on stage with as much fanfare and crowd adulation as you would expect at a sold-out show featuring a band whose next album has been eagerly awaited by fans since George W was still in office. But there was also a certain degree of uncertainty in the air - would they preview new material? Has time robbed them of their edge? You never really know until the lights dim.
I had never seen Modest Mouse live, before, so I have nothing to gauge Friday night's performance against, but I'm told by veteran fans that it was pretty much par for the course. To the uninitiated, however, that course can seem pretty unusual, at times.
The band played several of their most recognizable songs (including "Ocean Breathes Salty" and "Dashboard") right out of the gate, leaving the remainder of their two hour show (punctuated by weird, rambling asides from Isaac Brock and a twenty minute interval before the encore) devoted to their less well-known - and sometimes less accessible - material. For the fans packed up at the front, every song was a crowd favorite, but for more casual listeners milling in the back, the concert had some slow moments, and you could see a lot of concert-goers surreptitiously checking the Blazers score on their phones. (In fact, when news of their last-second win hit social media, a ripple of cheers went through the back half of the Crystal, temporarily threatening to drown out the music.)
While Modest Mouse's "comeback" may not have had the same populist appeal as the Blazers win, for fans of either group, Friday night definitely proved itself to be a long-awaited victory.