It was 4:30am as I walked across Williamsburg’s empty streets, and I
felt like I had accomplished something. Seven hours earlier I had come
down from the caffeine high that propelled me throughout the earlier
part of the day. I was crashing hard, and knew I had a long path ahead
of me. It was one of those nights when there were just too many
not-to-miss shows, and I had attempted to try and catch as many as
possible. I planned to start off at Pete’s Candy Store, then head to
Studio B in Greenpoint to finally end up for the “secret” Modest Mouse
show that was scheduled for 1:30 in the morning at the Music Hall of
“You’re gonna need coke or something,” someone recommended at the office. Instead, I downed another iced coffee and got ready.
I arrived at Pete’s Candy Store around 9pm. This would be the first of
the three stops and potentially the most interesting. The stage would
be occupied by Mike Edison, a man whose interesting history includes
time spent as publisher of High Times and collaborations with infamous
punk rocker GG Allin. My first mistake of the night came early, missing
Edison’s reading, which featured Jon Spencer providing music
accompaniment. I’d only made it in time for the music-only portion of
the night. Edison’s dirty, garage punk blues was not nearly as amusing
as his gifted storytelling.
As the clock closed in on 10, I headed out to the far reaches of
Greenpoint to catch Crystal Castles at Studio B. Still a few blocks
from the venue, I noticed the line. Wrapping around the block, I
followed it around another corner and took my place in line until I
remembered I could bypass the entire line since I was on the list.
Inside, it was another world. Crowded and hot, a DJ was blasting some
obnoxious dance music. Mixed in with the typical indie hipsters was a
large amount of douchebags and their female equivalents. Which brings
me to ask, what exactly is the female equivalent of a douchebag?
Claustrophobia set in and I directed myself to an area where I could
actually have a bit of personal space.
There I began to write into my little notepad—my pen spewing countless
lines of nonsense, and I was left with the task of directing young
ladies to the bathroom (I guess when you’re solo that’s all you’re good
Finally, Woodhands took the stage, and their geeky keytar dance pop
provided a little entertainment. The crowd was much more interested in
it than I was, but this really wasn’t my scene and I had spent the
entire week only listening to long drawn out, epic post-rock.
Between bands I met a few interesting guys through a common friend, and
these temporary acquaintances assured me that I was not alone in my
awkward experiences of the night. Awkward was the only way to describe
the feeling of standing next to a couple groping each other as if alone
in their bedroom.
With the crowd more than ready for more the headliner, Crystal Castles
took the stage and exploded on impact, bringing out an extra level of
chaos. Soon enough, it was time to make my exit to the Music Hall of
Williamsburg. I stumbled through the VIP section, tripping over seats,
people, tables, and whatever else got in my way, as I knocked over a
few bottles, hearing them clank onto the floor behind me. By the time I
got out the door, I had seemingly exhausted what little energy I had
left, but at least I still had my belt, unlike Ben.
No “fast pass” now: This line ride came equipped with its fair share of
ticket beggars, desperate for a chance to see Modest Mouse in a much
smaller venue than the one they played earlier in the night (opening
for REM at MSG). We waited and waited, and at around 2am—an hour after
the scheduled time for doors to open—we were inside, and crammed into
the best small venue in the city.
After a half-hour of watching the band’s crew setting up and checking
levels, a double drum attack started it all off, and the band was soon
enough giving the crowd a classic with “Trucker’s Atlas.” Following
with “Breakthrough,” it was clear that the drunken Isaac Brock and his
crew weren’t going to just play the new stuff, like so many have
complained about them doing. Sure they did a few, including recent hit
“Dashboard,” but it was classics like “Dramamine” and “Paper Thin
Walls” that made the night memorable. Johnny Marr and Isaac Brock
intertwined their bizarre guitar melodies often letting the songs grow
into mini jam-sessions. This was the Modest Mouse we all hoped for, the
Modest Mouse that rarely exists due to their sudden mass popularity. A
large venue such as Madison Square Garden would not allow Brock the
opportunity to jump into the excited crowd, as he did somewhere around
3:30am at this relatively small Brooklyn venue. By the time the band
set down their guitars for the perfect set-closing sing-along “The Good
Times Are Killing Me,” the feeling inside the venue was pretty magical.
Yes indeed, the good times are killing me. Like a classic Romero
zombie, I lifelessly made my way home, totally destroyed by a very long
Photos by Jonny-Leather