Built in 1925 and situated across the street from Comerica Park, the historic venue was the perfect setting for these bands to put on an intimate show for a packed house in the Motor City. With a wide general admission floor, along with two cozy layers of balconies, fans poured in beneath the massive arched ceiling in the main hall.
Mass Gothic is a dark and dreamy alternative band from New York who has been on tour with Modest Mouse on and off since September 2017. Fronted by Jessica Zambri (vocals, bass), and Noel Heroux (vocals, guitar) formerly of Hooray for Earth, released their self-titled album in 2016, and just dropped single, “Dark Window”, this week. They’re dynamic on stage; Jessica’s bright voice and Noel’s subdued and emotional presence made songs like “Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me”, and the track, “Nice Night” especially fascinating to experience.
While Mass Gothic emitted smooth bass lines and heart-beat drumming, their selective use of distortion, abstract keyboard effects, and echoing vocals pulled everything together to match the intensity of some of their darker lyrical content. Their songs lead into captivating psychedelic jams, that left some of those who I spoke to after the show in awe at their unique and haunting sound.
As Mass Gothic left the stage, excited Modest Mouse fans were ready for the main act.
Modest Mouse is hard to put into a box of a single genre. Often called indie rock, their albums go much deeper than that. It is easy to see why they have such a dedicated following with their experimental song structures, genius wordplay, in-your-face attitude, and folk influence.
Would they play classics from 1996’s This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About or Lonesome Crowded West? Will they share songs from their most recent album Strangers to Ourselves? We were all about to find out.
As Isaac took to the stage, he was greeted by old and new fans alike, some who have followed his musical projects since the mid-1990’s. He positioned himself behind a crescent of colorful guitar pedals, ready to create the many nuanced tones included in any given Modest Mouse song.
In all, there were eight artists on stage. Isaac Brock (vocals, guitar, and banjo), Lisa Molinaro (Keyboard, Viola), Jim Fairchild (guitar), Tom Peloso (keyboard, trumpet), Eric Judy (bass) and Jeremiah Green, Ben Massarella, and Davey Brozowski on percussion and drums.
Off the bat, Modest Mouse spat out “Spitting Venom”, and “Dance Hall”, getting everyone moving, and those in the balconies up on their feet. Then came “Interstate 8”, one of my all-time favorites from 2000’s Building Nothing out of Something. That is the Modest Mouse that so many came to see – Isaac screaming “You go out like a riptide. You know that ball has no sides, You’re an angel with an amber halo, Black hair and the devil’s pitchfork“, as the band busted out the funky and alien notes.
Newer titles such as “Lampshades On Fire” and “Pups to Dust”, gave many the chance to hear something new. But it wasn’t long before the group went back to memorable pieces such as “Night on the Sun”, “Perfect Disguise”, “Fire It Up”, and of course, their #1 on iTunes track, “Float On”.
Then came the encores. Yes, I said encores. The first encore included songs, “Dark Center of
experiencing the serene atmosphere together as Isaac’s voice and the band’s instrumentation filled the vaulted golden venue.
What followed next were heavy-hitting masterpieces to close out the night, “Dramamine”, “Bury Me With It”, and “Out of Gas”. Modest Mouse executed perfectly, leading us down a sentimental path towards midnight, before closing out the show.
After the concert I had the chance to speak to a man who attended both shows in Detroit, he states, “they are just incredible, I have seen them probably 20 times over the past 20 years, and each show is different, including their two shows here. I still can’t believe they played two nights in Detroit, it is such a gift!”
Photojournalist: Zach Share