The night of September 22nd was still a warm one, when San Diego fans started lining up to get inside San Diego State’s Cal Coast Open Air Theater — an outdoor venue carved into the middle of the sprawling university campus. Modest Mouse was here! Whether you were a fan of their 2004 smash hit album Good News for People Who Love Bad News or the songs currently in heavy rotation on FM radio waves, alt rock lovers arrived in full force.
Stopping for a beer or a macramé handmade sweater at Modest Mouse’s merch booth, fans slowly made their way to their seats right as Pennsylvania’s The Districts took the stage. Younger, yet with a lot of edge and stage confidence, The Districts captivated attendees from the start. It was hard to pinpoint their sound… it was as if the voice of Morrissey met with the instrumental jam/psychedelia of The War on Drugs mixed with… well, Modest Mouse. Needless to say, they gained a lot of fans that night alongside fans that already knew of their prowess, cheering from the get-go.
After a brief intermission, the lights dimmed for the main men themselves — Modest Mouse.
The stage had instruments scattered almost everywhere, from a slim-bodied cello to a violin to a pocket trumpet to an overwhelming percussion set and what seemed like seven or eight guitars. The show was on! Starting with “The World At Large” (the lead track following that unforgettably uncomfortable “Horn Intro” on the album that all of knew so very, very well), a wave of nostalgia crashed down on the crowd, as if we’ve forgotten this feeling of mid-2000s alt contentment. It only got better from there.
After song two, Modest Mouse addressed me personally, stopping the concert to ask if I was shooting photography for the show. I’ve never had someone stop in the middle of their set before to have a conversation with me from stage, so I obliged, letting lead singer Isaac Brock know that, yes, I was indeed shooting photography at the moment. He asked if we had a “three song rule”, in which I nodded “yes, so one song left” before venue coordinators gave us the boot. Brock waved at that, stating that he wanted us to “shoot the whole show, for photography is an art”. Well, I appreciate that Mr. Mouse, sir, although the front row of concert-goers didn’t look too happy about the new development. We all got out of the way after the third song anyway, but it was nice not having to check my camera back into security before enjoying the rest of the show! With new song weaved between old classic, the set continued on into the night before a resonating encore of “Float On” — everyone’s favorite sing-along. Not a bad night at all.
Photography by Kristy Rose