Modest Mouse Float On With New Music

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Do you all remember indie rock?

On the Honda stage on Saturday, Isaac Brock and genre legends Modest Mouse brought it back to ACL 2004, when one-shot wonders arrived at Zilker Park on top of the unlikely pop hit “Float On”. Turns out it’s still a resounding pantheon rock single, one that survived an era of trendy rock music, ultimately forgettable.

In the mid-2000s, ACL Fest was planning around boomer icons like Van Morrison; rock roots like the Black Crowes; and dotted with tasteful college rock bands like Bloc Party, Tortoise and the Shins. Back in those days, if you openly lamented that these bands were “slow” or “sucked,” your disrespect for rock canon and its manic ramifications of leprechaun scenes meant a diversion from the share of people who attended good schools. In retrospect, this notion of taste was shockingly classist, gendered, and racially coded. Today, ACL Fest is better not only because the acts are more diverse in composition, but also because they sound more dynamic.

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Still, it was Brock, 46, who opened for Jack Harlow, 23, as rapper TikTok’s stans gathered on the nearby Miller Lite stage. Fortunately, he has the sounds turned towards the future to keep pace.

Modest Mouse is on tour behind “The Golden Casket”, his new seventh album. At Zilker Park, the six-piece group performed with instrumentation: Brock strummed the banjo for at least two songs, the brass accents of the cornet and euphonium sounded, and I’m pretty sure someone rocked a can of soda on stage. (The liner notes of “Golden Casket” indicate that it includes “soft drink percussion.”)

But Brock is a sardonic and witty brother of the Pacific Northwest. Phrases like “We laughed at paying rent because county jails are free” burst with contempt for restrictive human conventions. All of this makes him a sage worth starting a vibrant fan subreddit, a subtitle in which you ask old-fashioned questions like “Which album do you all associate with Autumn / Fall?” ”

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As the new single “We Are Between” from Modest Mouse suggests, we are made of old stones and salt. In other words, we’re here for quite a while, not long – and the band has found enough rhythm to uplift the many clueless Longhorn fans moping at Zilker. Or at least strengthen their engagement: Customers were curious for most of the set about interesting new mid-tempo songs like “Wooden Soldiers” which showcased Brock’s spiraling lyricism.

Singing into a golden microphone, wearing white headphones and wearing a red Hawaiian shirt under denim overalls, he reportedly mixed up last week’s setlist and closed with “Float On” this time around. It was the obvious and sublime connection we needed.


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