Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The question came up recently of what made Modest Mouse, at their peak, such a great band. I had to think about it for a minute. Great songwriting, and vocals that were always just on the brink of hysteria. I came across this 1981 clip of the Violent Femmes doing their signature song, and realized that the same principles apply. One of my peak live show experiences was seeing them in '84 in a small Northampton club. I don't remember its name, but there was an small airplane sticking out of the roof, as though it had crashed into the building. The club, with maybe 150-200 people, was packed. Their set was largely acoustic, with just a simple snare for percussion. They were electrifying. I saw them again a few years later in a larger venue in a full on concert setting, and it wasn't the same at all. The magic was gone. The Femmes were at their best when they kept it simple. Pure stripped down angsty intensity. That was the shit.