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Iconic indie rockers Modest Mouse set to play SteelStacks

By , - Last modified: March 13, 2014 at 11:23 AM

A week ago, when going through my seemingly endless collection of music, I happened upon an album that gave me a flashback to my early years of high school. It gave me a dose of nostalgia that evoked positive past times with friends, but it also made me think about how much this band has influenced my life since then.

The album is "The Moon and Antarctica," and the band is Modest Mouse. Little did I know as a young teenager how much this album would have an impact on me for years to come. Looking back today, it couldn't be more gratifying to see how one particular band can make such a huge difference on how I perceive things in everyday life.

Everything from lead singer Isaac Brock's wordplay, use of metaphors, philosophical lyrics and themes of oppressive rural lifestyles to his uncanny stage presence, this band will forever hold a place in my heart.

So, after listening to the band on repeat for days and reflecting on my youth, I started thinking about the few times I was fortunate to catch Modest Mouse concerts and experience the captivating live show it presents like no other band I had before seen. I asked myself if I would ever get another chance to see Modest Mouse in concert.

I even went to Facebook to post a song and write a status that said, "When will they ever announce a tour?"

The band hasn't put out an album since 2007 ("We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank") other than a compilation of B-sides, and it hasn't really toured in nearly three years – other than a few random shows here and there (that were not close enough for me to attend).


Well, to my extraordinary luck, just a couple of days later I received a press release from ArtsQuest that said "Modest Mouse Kicks Off New 'Yuengling Summer Concert Series' at SteelStacks May 21."

I had to do a double take and reread the release to confirm what I thought I had read. Confirmation complete, I yelled to myself "Holy [expletive]!" in utmost excitement.

Things couldn't have fallen in place more appropriately for me.

Most of my friends know of my obsession with this band, so to say I'm ecstatic would be an understatement.


Modest Mouse formed in 1993 in Issaquah, Wash., and has been a staple in the indie-rock scene since, with an ever-growing presence.

It released its first full-length album "This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing to Think About" in 1996 and followed that with "The Lonesome Crowded West" just a year later.

And while "The Moon and Antarctica," released in 2000, really started putting its name on the map, Modest Mouse's major breakthrough came with the release of "Good News for People Who Love Bad News" in 2004 – which included its biggest hit song to date "Float On." The album sold more than 1.5 million copies and earned the band two Grammy nominations.


In March 2007, the band released its next full-length album "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank" when former guitarist of The Smiths, Johnny Marr, joined the band. This album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.

Since then, the band has performed a few new songs during live performances, but the only recordings released were B-sides that didn't make the cut on previous albums. Sticking true to his wordplay, Brock ingeniously named the compilation "No One's First and You're Next."

Listening through from beginning to end, any true Modest Mouse fan can pick out which songs were originally tracked for specific albums. It's a great mix of the old and the new, and really gives you perspective on how much the band has developed throughout the years.

The most notable song from the compilation is "King Rat" which encompasses the horns most recognized from "Good News for People Who Love Bad News." The song even struck the interest of late actor, Heath Ledger, who directed its official music video just months before his untimely passing.

But, other than that, the Modest community hasn't really heard much from the band.


There's been speculation of a new album, but Brock hasn't confirmed its release date. About the only thing we know is that it canceled an European tour last summer to focus on recording, and that Big Boi of Outkast was in the studio working with the group. Also, former bassist of Nirvana, Krist Novoselic, is laying down some bass parts on some of the new songs.

But, now that we know Modest Mouse has announced a summer tour, I think we can soon expect the band to announce a release date for a new record. It's what fans have impatiently been awaiting for the past seven years.

The new Yeungling Summer Concert Series at SteelStacks will take place at SteelStacks' Levitt Pavilion, an outdoor music venue at the base of the 250-foot-tall former Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces on Bethlehem's south side.

The shows are not part of the SteelStacks' free Levitt Pavilion Summer Concert Series presented by Highmark Blue Shield, which presents 50 free concerts for the community from Memorial Day weekend through mid-September.

For the Yuengling Summer Concert Series performances, the Levitt Pavilion will be gated with standing-room-only capacity of 3,000.

Tickets for this show are $40 and currently are on sale to ArtsQuest members.

Tickets go on sale to the general public Friday (March 14) at 10 a.m. (I'll be on Ticketmaster, first in line.)

More information on this concert and other upcoming events can be found at www.steelstacks.org or by calling 610-332-3378.

For a full list of tour dates, check out the band's website at www.modestmouse.com.

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Christopher Holland

Christopher Holland

Christopher Holland is a researcher for Lehigh Valley Business and blogs on arts and entertainment in the region.

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