By Andrew Sacher
July 15, 2016
Brand New and Modest Mouse brought their current co-headlining tour to NYC last night (7/14) for a packed show at the iconic Madison Square Garden. The last time these two bands played NYC together, at Forest Hills Stadium in 2014, Brand New opened the show, but this time Modest Mouse were up first. Modest Mouse have been around long enough and have a rich enough discography that their shows have kinda taken on that jam-band element of “what songs are we gonna get?!” and the MSG set delivered. They dropped favorites like “Dramamine” and “3rd Planet,” neither of which were heard at that Forest Hills show or the current tour’s most recent stop at Merriweather Post Pavilion. They also of course threw in usual suspects like “Doin’ the Cockroach” and “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes.” (No “Float On,” but it seemed like their set got cut a little short — maybe they had planned to play it?) They wasted no time getting to the standout songs, opening right up with the crowd-pleasing “Bury Me With It” and sounding great as ever. For the type of indie rock fan that treasures a balance of weirdness and accessibility, catharsis and contemplation, Modest Mouse are still one of the most ideal bands. The older favorites hit the hardest, but they’re certainly not a nostalgia act. The handful of songs we got off their newest album — “Lampshades on Fire,” “Shit in Your Cut,” etc — sounded great mixed in with the classics.
Modest Mouse’s set was strong, but Brand New’s was the perfect way to close this show. If Brand New didn’t have more fans in the crowd, they certainly had louder ones. Brand New tee-shirts were being worn all throughout The Garden, and only a very small number of songs didn’t have the crowd singing louder than the band themselves. Three of their first four songs were off their last album, 2009’s Daisy, which is really a hell of a way to start a show. It’s their heaviest, noisiest album. Even if you don’t know the words, you’d have to be a robot to feel nothing from the sheer power of those songs in a live setting. Brand New are loud, forceful, and they owned that arena stage as if they’d been playing shows this big for a decade. They certainly haven’t been — Jesse Lacey seemed genuinely humbled, if not a little timid, to be headlining the very full Madison Square Garden. When he went to thank the crowd, he at one point was literally speechless.
With the noisy stuff behind them, Brand New went into the more lyrical, emotional songs, and that’s when those crowd singalongs came into full effect. A run of “Tautou” / “Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades” into “Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don’t” into “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot” had virtually the entire arena shouting at the top of their lungs. When it happened again later during “Sowing Season,” I got chills. A lot of these songs have of course been around for a decade or more, but Brand New find ways to breathe new life into them. The instrumental bridge of “Sic Transit Gloria” is much noisier these days. “Limousine” and the always-epic set-closer “You Won’t Know” have extended outros. And even some parts that aren’t changed much, like the instrumental ending of “Luca,” get delivered with a freer, more frenzied approach than the album versions.
Like at other stops on the tour, the encore began with Jesse alone on stage playing “Play Crack the Sky,” which he dedicated to his parents and prefaced it by saying it’s a “Long Island song.” The full band eventually got back up there and Jesse kinda smiled and said “okay…” and they whipped out “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows,” the band’s breakout song and the poppiest one they played all night. (Nothing off Your Favorite Weapon was played.) It’s also maybe the most arena-ready song they ever wrote, and it definitely felt like a triumph to play it at Madison Square Garden. The shrieks from the crowd that instantly followed its clean-guitar intro would probably agree.
The absence of Your Favorite Weapon songs didn’t bother me personally — they don’t really fit the mood of the rest of this set anyway. My only real complaint was they didn’t play new singles “I Am A Nightmare” and “Mene,” or the recently-released reworked versions of their 2006 demos. Their new songs already feel as vital as the older favorites and would’ve been a treat to see. Still, just a minor disappointment from an otherwise fantastic show.
(Speaking of, the band just launched pre-orders for a “Mene” 7″ with the exclusive b-side, “Out of Range.”)
More pictures and both bands’ setlists from the MSG show are below.
Modest Mouse Setlist
Bury Me With It
Lampshades on Fire
Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
Shit in Your Cut
Satin in a Coffin
Night on the Sun
Paper Thin Walls
Missed the Boat
Doin’ the Cockroach
The Tortoise and the Tourist
Brand New Setlist
Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades
Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don’t
The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot
Limousine (MS Rebridge)
At the Bottom
Play Crack the Sky
The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows
You Won’t Know