Modest Mouse plays last-minute show

Early-morning show follows Thursday's R.E.M. gig

NEW YORK -- Nearing the end of summer tour supporting R.E.M., Modest Mouse took a break from arenas and wedged itself into Brooklyn's 550-capacity Music Hall of Williamsburg for a set that began Friday morning at 2:30 a.m.

The show, which followed R.E.M.'s gig at Madison Square Garden, had only been announced earlier that day, and $20 tickets sold out in minutes.

The Web buzzed with rumors of possible guest appearances by R.E.M. members at the club date, since ex-Smiths/current Modest Mouse guitarist Johnny Marr has been guesting on R.E.M. songs throughout the tour. And even though there were no surprises of that ilk, Modest Mouse had no problem stirring up the crowd on its own.

With the tiny stage cluttered with two full drum sets, a synthesizer, pump organ, guitars and basses, there was hardly any space for the six band members to walk, which resulted in stage hands having to frantically untangle frontman Isaac Brock's microphone and guitar cables nearly every time he moved.

At about 3 a.m. Brock announced, "I'm pretty sure these are my prime hours." He wasn't kidding, because the later into the show, the more life he seemed to have. During "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes," he played guitar with his teeth to fire up the crowd, then jumped off the stage to start a good-natured mosh pit with his fans.

The early-morning show came in waves of energy. People got tired during "Little Motel," then immediately perked up when the band cut to "Paper Thin Walls." The set was filled with extended instrumental solos that might not have sat as well with the MSG crowd, but worked in the smaller setting.

Of the 14 songs played, more than half were from 2004's "Good News for People Who Love Bad News" (Epic) and 2007's "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank" (Epic). The band did hit a couple of tracks from its 1996 debut "This Is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing To Think About," but overall the set hued closely to what the band has been playing on the R.E.M. tour.

The show closed out with the droning, slow-paced "Blame It on the Tetons" and "The Good Times Are Killing Me."

Modest Mouse wraps up its run with R.E.M. on Saturday in Lakewood, Ga. The group then goes on to play several headlining gigs as well as the inaugural Rothbury Festival in Rothbury, Mich. in early July.
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