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Modest Mouse and the Walkmen – Live at Minneapolis’ First Avenue

By: Kathryn McGrathModest Mouse/ The Walkmen First Avenue, Minneapolis August 28,2004

The lack of a Lollapallooza tour this summer may well be the good news for people who love bad news. In the wake of Farrell’s failed circus, Modest Mouse scheduled a last-minute tour with fellow would-be ‘Palloozers the Walkmen. In Minneapolis, the hastily scheduled show sold out in a matter of days, and First Avenue was packed with teenagers by the time the Brooklyn-based Walkmen took the stage.

While many New York rock critics heralded the arrival of the Walkman’s second album, Bows & Arrows, and the album met with modest success (selling 50,000 copies since February ’04), the band isn’t well known outside the five boroughs. But when singer/ Hamilton Leithauser wailed, “I’m waiting on the subway line, I’m waiting for a train to arrive, I’m thinking of a dream I had,” the all-ages Modest Mouse fan base, who largely rode Minneapolis’ brand-new light-rail system to the show, cheered like a hometown crowd. The Walkmen saved “The Rat,” their brilliantly bad-tempered, stand-out single from Bows & Arrows, for last. Driven by urgent guitar and tempered by Matt Barrick’s measured, insistent drumming, Leithauser delivered the song’s morose, angry lyrics with abandon. Wailing and flailing, one foot on the amp, Leithauser tripped, falling backwards onto the stage–and popped right back up without pausing or dropping the mic.