Clif Rhodes

Modest Mouse and The Pixies Bring Their Highly Anticipated Tour to the Firefly Distillery

Clif Rhodes
Jun 3, 2024
6 min read

The sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky; conditions were perfect for a summer evening show. Fans lined up early, creating a serpentine-style line and eagerly awaiting for the gates of Firefly Distillery to open. Two alt-rock heavyweights Modest Mouse and The Pixies brought their highly anticipated tour to the green shadeless field of the Distillery. Both bands have faced their fair share of challenges in the past year – Modest Mouse tragically lost their drummer Jeremiah Green to cancer, and The Pixies have just recently parted ways with Paz Lenchantin, the former bassist for over a decade. But the show must go on, right? The gates opened and the crowd poured in, laying claim to their spot in the pit, perusing the merch, and staking a bit of land for their blankets or chairs.

Cat Power played a lovely opening set, pulling in the sauntering crowd. The fans settled in with their families or beverages of choice, and Modest Mouse took to the stage to rapturous applause. Isaac Brock (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Simon O’Conner (lead guitar), Russell Higbee (bass), Ben Massarella (percussion), Keith Karman (keyboards), and Damon Cox (drums) kicked it off with “The Stars Are Projectors” from 2000’s The Moon & Antarctica.  The fans were now locked in and ready to rock. The familiar opening riff of “Dashboard” from We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank let the crowd know it was time to get rowdy. Arms were in the air and bodies were bobbing up and down. Between songs, Issac would banter with the crowd, and he provided styling tips to one guy with impressive punk rock-styled spiked hair. He also commended a fan for her creative method of requesting a song. She wore a lampshade with flames painted, referencing the band's song “Lampshades On Fire”.  The energy ramped up through “Doin’ The Cockroach” from the Lonesome Crowded West album. Things slowed down a bit when the band performed “Lace Your Shoes” from the band's latest album, The Golden Casket. Issac, Simon, and Russell dominated the stage, during The Moon And Antarctica's “3rd Planet” and continued wiping their instruments and hair around during “King Rat” from the 2009 EP No One’s First, And You’re Next. The audience was then treated to “Remember Yourself”, Modest Mouse’s newest song, which has only been heard on tour so far. Thematically, the lyrics felt extremely close to Issac’s side project Ugly Casanova’s “Here’s to Now”. The flow of the lyrics combined with Issac’s vocals and understated guitar work created a lovely lullaby that fans will enjoy upon its official release. The band delivered a rock solid performance of both “Bury Me With It,” and the fan favorite “Float On” from the 2004 certified classic Good News For People Who Love Bad News. Modest Mouse closed out their set with another treat for fans, an excellent cover of The Cure’s “A Forest”. 

The Pixies took the stage and I was struck with a bit of nostalgia. I have been fortunate enough to have seen Modest Mouse before, but I have never had the opportunity to see The Pixies live.

Seeing frontman Black Francis, Joey Santiago (lead guitar), and David Lovering (drums) in the flesh was surreal. They opened with “Gouge Away” which flowed right into “Wave of Mutilation,” both fan-favorite bangers from Doolittle. Emma Richardson, the band's newest member, laid down a smooth driving bass track and melodic backing vocals on “Nimrod’s Son”.  A highlight for me was Joey’s guitar solo antics on “Vamos” from Surfer Rosa.  Of course, the massive crowd turned the show into a sing-along during the classic “Here Comes Your Man”. I have seen that track covered at least 50 times, by numerous acts, but I’m sorry to say that now I know they’ll never compare to the real thing. Emma thumbed the bass and familiar bass notes rang out, before being joined by Joey and his surfer-style guitar licks on the instantly recognizable “Debasser”. Watching Black belt out “DEBASSER” to a roaring crowd brought a massive smile to my face. When a familiar howl echoed out, the crowd went silent. Black walked to the mic and said “Stop”. That one word struck a fuse and the crowd exploded, they went mental. It was so loud it was hard to hear the subtle lead-in, but it was impossible to mistake the song. “Where Is My Mind?” was the closer, and it was a doozy. There are moments at every show where the audience is completely locked in with the band. This was unmistakably one of the moments. The Pixies delivered a solid performance and one that solidified their status as one of the most influential bands in the alt-rock genre.

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