Modest Mouse & Brand New Rock New York's Forest Hills Stadium
Brand New's local legend continues; Modest Mouse shares new songs, caves and plays "Float On."
Modest Mouse and Brand New went down to the tennis court on Aug. 9 and talked it up like… angsty indie kids.
In just the third concert since Queens, N.Y.'s 91-year old Forest Hills Stadium received a much-needed facelift, the pair of enigmatic rock bands proved why they’re both still leaders within their respective subgenres despite having gone a combined 12 years without releasing any studio full lengths.
Both own the spotty reputations of hit-or-miss live acts. But an outdoor crowd on a perfect summer night surrounded with adoring kids from New York City, Jersey, Long Island and the nearby metropolitan area proved the perfect setting for Brand New and Modest Mouse to bask in their irreverent glory.
Over its almost 100-year history, the Forest Hills Stadium hosted the U.S. Open 60 times, lastly in 1977. The parents of Saturday night's attendees might remember it for now-legendary Beatles and Dylan concerts, while there’s a good chance the Modest Mouse and Brand New fans first saw it in Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums.
And given the clientele, it’s unlikely there was much overlap from the Mumford & Sons and Zac Brown shows that previously filled the stadium since the relaunch. So most of the crowd experienced the venue for the first time, taking the bad (minimal cell phone reception, lengthy ATM and merch lines) with the good (plenty of beer with relatively short lines) on a night when good sets from their heroes could’ve made up for just about any hassle.
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And they certainly did. When Modest Mouse decides to cast its pretensions aside and just play “Float On” (in the encore, no less!) it’s a good night -- good enough to ease the pain from Brand New’s omission of “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” from the set list.
Opening the show, Brand New continued its tradition of dividing its set into suites of songs from each of its four albums. They tossed in a little rarity -- “Demo 3 (Brothers)” -- from the scrapped The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me sessions, and then proceeded to let that beloved 2006 album dominate the set, while soon-to-be-sold-out limited edition vinyl copies of it flew off the merch stand.
Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey may never be a chatty frontman, but in opening for some of his musical heroes, good vibes could be felt throughout the set. He shouted out Isaac Brock and Modest Mouse multiple times and by relegating Brand New’s least popular album (2009’s Daisy) to the beginning of the set, he allowed the crowd’s energy to crest as the set wore on. Only one track ("Seventy Times 7") from their 2003 pop-punk-leaning debut, Your Favourite Weapon, made the cut, allowing the band to exist at its heavy, screamy, visceral best.
Headliners Modest Mouse took the stage as darkness fell, with frontman Brock dressed in a festive, cactus-patterned shirt and backed by six other musicians, which included an occasional second drummer, keyboardist and violinist. The expansive setup brought a fuller feel to songs like “Dashboard” and “Gravity Rides Everything” but let older, guitar-focused tracks like “Doin’ the Cockroach” and “Custom Concern” exist on their own.
While Brand New failed to deliver any new material from their rumored fifth studio album, Modest Mouse -- who haven’t released a proper LP since 2007 -- offered a trio of unreleased, new songs, including the Big Boi-produced “Lampshades On Fire.”
Predictably, the crowd didn’t match its frenzy for hometowners Brand New, but Modest Mouse’s set was well-received nonetheless. It certainly helped that Brock and company went the populist route and let their most commercially successful album, 2004’s Good News For People Who Love Bad News, dominate the set. After playing “Float On” for the first time in four shows, they rocked out that album’s final track, “The Good Times Are Killing Me,” to close the night as the 10 p.m. noise curfew arrived.
Will either of these bands deliver their long-awaited new album this year? Or next year? The Forest Hills show didn’t say, but it gave the kids in attendance reason to keep the faith… and maybe even come out to the tennis court more often. Aug. 19’s Drake vs. Lil Wayne show, anyone?
Here is Brand New’s set list:
3. At the Bottom
4. You Stole
5. Sic Transit Gloria (Glory Fades)
6. I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light
7. Demo 3 (Brothers)
8. Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t
9. Seventy Times 7
10. Sowing Season (Yeah)
14. Jesus Christ
16. You Won’t Know
And here's Modest Mouse’s set list:
1. The World at Large
2. Ocean Breathes Salty
3. Doin' the Cockroach
5. Gravity Rides Everything
6. Lampshades On Fire
7. Cowboy Dan
8. The Devil's Workday
9. Shit In Your Cut
10. Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
11. Never Ending Math Equation
12. Sugar Boats
13. Fire It Up
14. A Different City
15. Custom Concern
16. Float On
17. The Good Times Are Killing Me