Walking down North 6th Street last night at 1:30 a.m. was like parting a Red Sea of bearded, bespectacled guys in plaid shirts. This strange fact owed to Modest Mouse having announced a secret Music Hall of Williamsburg show, following their gig opening for R.E.M. at Madison Square Garden earlier that day. (Tickets went on sale at noon and sold out in 30 minutes. Immediately after that, they were offered for $200 a pair on Craigslist.) Staggeringly long lines meant the band didn’t take the stage until 2:29 a.m., but they more than made up for any fan fatigue. By the second song, Isaac Brock was flailing on the floor, knocking over his mike. “It's fucking … it's really great that you all showed up here,” he told the crowd, sounding grateful and surprised. “I'm pretty sure that these are my prime hours.”
We’d have to second that notion: Brock then ripped out a banjo for a rendition of “Satin in a Coffin” that sounded like hillbilly death metal, thrashing around the stage with such abandon we started feeling sorry for the anxious guitar guy who kept following him around, making sure nothing came unplugged. At times Brock would pause to survey the crowd. He made fun of some gear-laden photographer, saying he looked like “bionic man.” (“I own both those items, but I've never used them together,” Brock said. “I'm not trying to pick on you, buddy. I'm just baffled.”) Best was the long nonsensical story he started telling about growing up in Montana (“The only reason for anyone to live there was because the settlers just gave up”). He found his point, lost it, circled it a few times, and somehow landed on “rednecks and dogs.” “I'm not just a drunk dude prattling onstage,” he said. Then someone handed him a beer. “Oh God. That's going to make the story longer!”
Finally the band just started playing “Wild Pack of Family Dogs” (apparently Brock’s rant was meant to introduce the song), and quickly segued into the best moment of the night, where Brock made his trademark lunge for the guitar with his teeth, then jumped into the crowd to mosh for a bit.
As we were exiting, around 4 a.m., we overheard this fine summary of the night:
Dude: “Best non-drug-fueled show of my life!”
Chick: “How do you know they weren't on drugs?”
Dude: “No, me. Me. I wasn't on drugs.”
Chick: “Wow, that's a good show. You're always on drugs.” —Jada Yuan