Fresh off the road from touring with The Black Keys, Modest Mouse delivered a triumphant headline show in Santa Rosa less than a month after performing at San Francisco’s sparkling new Chase Center. The choice in location likely came as a shock for those who’ve followed the band after it tapped into mainstream success with 2004’s “Good News for People Who Love Bad News,” and its shows consisted of venues like the Chase Center, Berkeley’s Greek Theater, or packed festival crowds like BottleRock in Napa
Yet, as music lover who grew up hearing “The View” on teen dramas like The OC while arts reporters I admired told stories about the band’s early days performing in Santa Rosa, I couldn’t help but dismiss the idea of ever seeing Modest Mouse play in my hometown.
Undoubtedly, there is no way a concert at the more than 1,600 capacity Luther Burbank Center will ever compare to seeing Modest Mouse perform at a house on Orchard Street in Santa Rosa. The two sets of drums dancing in a synchronized battle would be hard to cram into a small living room. Heck, just the production required for the band’s current light show could take up an entire house alone.
Regardless of the size of the venue, the band did return to town. This time with an infinite song catalog singer Isaac Brock invited fans to choose from mid-show. Most of hoots and hollers consisted of newer songs like “Fire It Up” off 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank.
Ultimately, the band went with a request that was a bit older. As the lights flashed upon the faces of a crowd mostly consisting of people who drove in from out of town, it became clear 1996 was decades ago. Even if the song request the band performed was a throwback there would be no going back. Not for a Grammy-nominated band or for a small town that has somehow become an overpriced bridge town to San Francisco. But just for a moment, as Modest Mouse played “Paper Thin Walls,” it wasn’t hard to imagine being back in 1996, with the cops pounding on the door of a little duplex.