One of this summer’s hottest tours is the co-headline bill featuring Brand New and Modest Mouse. With both bands carrying large and passionate fan bases, the two find themselves playing to some of the most substantial crowds of their careers. Last Friday night, the tour came to the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA where a near-capacity crowd came out. For this tour, the bands are both playing full headline sets, alternating on who gets to close the show each night. For the Mansfield stop, it was Brand New going on first, in the twilight, just after 7pm.
Fans in the parking lot were scurrying to get to their seats as the opening notes of “Sink” rang out when Brand New took to the stage. Enigmatic frontman Jesse Lacey appeared to be in the best of moods, smiling all night, and even breaking to banter with the crowd – if only for a moment – a few times. Brand New has long built their reputation on being as cryptic and mysterious as possible, since releasing their last album, “Daisy” in 2009, the band has quietly become one of the most popular bands in the US. They’ve mentioned releasing new music several times in the years since, but aside from a pair of non-album singles, and a tape of demos from their earlier years, not much has come from it. More so, earlier this year Brand New even hinted at a possible breakup in 2018 as well, something that is certainly contributing to the urgency of fans seeing the band perform live.
Mixing and matching their setlist throughout the night, Brand New continued to be as unpredictable as ever, even at one point digging out the song “Moshi Moshi” from an split EP they released in 2002. Their set was composed mostly of material from three of their four studio albums, with their debut record “Your Favorite Weapon” being skipped over entirely. Their production was dramatic as ever, with microphone stands adorned with flowers, floodlights on the floor, harsh strobes on nearly every song, and video boards behind them presenting different visuals on every song. In the crowd, several mosh pits broke out during the heavier songs. Throughout their hour and fifteen minute set, Brand New did what they do better than anyone else, taking mysterious and dramatic to new levels much to the delight of the large crowd.
After an intermission it was time for Modest Mouse to take their turn on stage, Modest Mouse is also a band with a loyal and dedicated fan base, and similar jam bands such as Grateful Dead or Phish, fans of Modest Mouse often travel to as many shows in their area as they can, as every night brings something different in their live performance. Opening with the slow and peaceful track “Strangers to Ourselves” from the 2015 album of the same title, the group built momentum as they went along. Going back as far as their debut demo “Interstate 8” the set spanned throughout their entire catalog. Fan favorite track “Bukowski” was a particular highlight in the set, delighting fans hoping for a song of that nature.
Throughout their twenty one song set, Modest Mouse showed off the grandiose presence that they built their reputation on, incorporating nearly every instrument you can imagine into their music. Perhaps the band’s most commercially successful effort, is the tune “Float On” which made its way into the set as the second song of the encore, prompting loud cheers, and bringing out the inner karaoke singer in most of the crowd. The band then capped their set with “Spitting Venom” off their 2007 album “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank” and took their bows.
Both bands put on inspiring performances, of very a different kind. While Brand New maintained the dramatic and mysterious aura they’ve become known for, Modest Mouse’s set was fun, loose and one that at times felt like that of a jam band. However, despite the differences in tone, there are a lot of similarities in their music as well, both with the obvious Pixies influence and attention to musicianship and producing unique sounds. The other big similarity is the passion of the fan bases, playing in massive venues and packing nearly every one is something a little different as both bands spent most of their careers in theaters and larger clubs. But as they have matured, they’ve both now graduated to the larger stages.
Everything about this tour is big time, the sound, the production, the fan turnout and if you’re even a casual fan of either band, it’s not one that you want to miss. The tour continues through the end of July, where it will conclude in Portland, Oregon on July 31st.
Brand New / Modest Mouse Tour Dates
07-21 Tulsa, OK - Bok Center * 07-22 Grand Prairie, TX - Verizon Field * 07-23 Del Valle, TX - Austin360 Amphitheater * 07-25 Phoenix, AZ - Comerica Theater * 07-26 Chula Vista, CA - Sleep Train Amphitheatre * 07-27 Inglewood, CA - The Forum * 07-28 Berkeley, CA - Greek Theater * 07-30 Seattle, WA - Keyarena * 07-31 Portland, OR - Moda Center *