By Lily Wellen, Special to OnMilwaukee   Published May 06, 2018 at 3:12 PM

Back in 2015, Modest Mouse released "Strangers to Ourselves," and ever since then, we haven’t heard much from them. So when The Rave announced a show with them – the band's first at the venue in 11 years – it was a complete shock, causing people to jump on buying tickets and selling out the Eagles Ballroom immediately.

People stormed in wearing different eras of Modest Mouse band tees, and hooting and hollering the whole time before the show began. The Rave kept teasing the crowd while messing with the lights and sound, making the audience impatient, but finally, bird sounds glared on, and the band walked out to their loyal fans screaming. They walked very nonchalantly to their places and didn’t really acknowledge the audience much. They were just here to do their thing and play their music, which is respectable.

You could tell Modest Mouse were incredible instrumentalists. Between each song, all nine of them would switch between what they were playing. There were three percussion sets on stage, along with violas, shakers, trumpets, banjos and more. You saw literally every type of instrument, and it was quite impressive to see what Modest Mouse does to create every beat of the song right in front of your eyes.

However, the sound quality of the show was awful. The mixing and balance of the audio was really messed up, making it hard to appreciate the band's talent. The lyrics and chatting sounded muffled from their opening song, "Sh*t in Your Cut." The song "The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box," had to be cut short due to bass issues, and the whole performance seemed like it was turning into a sound check. Between each song, they spent a lot of time tweaking each instrument. Whenever they talked to the audience, no one could hear anything they were saying except, "You all doing OK out there?"

You could be generous and label this a cool concert experience as it felt more authentic to just see them up there doing their thing and working out their tweaks, as well as showed the audience how important their sound is to them over performance. They are there to share their discography of songs and they want themselves to sound the best they can be. On the other hand, it did ruin the concert flow. Each song had a long pause between, so the setlist didn’t seem like it moved along well at all. It felt like a wavelength that kept breaking.

Regardless, they kept floating on.

As a result, the audience got restless. Because the band has been together since the ‘90s and their massive hit, "Float On," was released in 2004, you had a wide range of people from high school age to middle-aged, an interesting dynamic as the show went along. The older crowd didn’t dance too much, while the younger crowd became growingly impatient with the sound issues, causing some people to have full-blown conversations during the set – which sounded more like yelling since that was the only way they could hear each other. Like movies, people shouldn’t talk through a concert. It really ruins taking in the experience of live music.

The band still managed to play over 20 songs covering their discography from the late ‘90s to 2015, making their loyal fanbase happy they could hear a little bit across all of the eras – with highlights including "Trailer Trash," "Fire it Up" and "Dashboard." With this many songs, the band's set went about 30 minutes too long. Modest Mouse managed to work in two encores, which allowed for the audience to take in more of their music live, but the breaks between each became ridiculously long. People started to feel agitated, so a lot of them left, and each break felt more like an intermission than a quick space before an encore. It seemed unfair to the fans to make them wait as long as they did – and considering the band's constant working out of sound issues, they had extended their show longer than they needed to. 

In its second encore, Modest Mouse played its massive hit, "Float On." It was great to hear a song that blew up live, but the sound quality was bad and with people already ready to go home, the energy wasn’t to the level it should've been. The best way to describe the feeling post-concert would be disappointment mixed with satisfaction. It was a bummer the songs didn’t sound like fans hoped, however, it was satisfying to see them perform and hear 22 songs live.

People love and will stand by this band as fans for a lifetime, so the show was good for that. But here’s hoping that if they return to The Rave again, they can improve their sound and dynamic more to bring us an even better show next time around.


"Shit in Your Cut"
"Tiny Cities Made of Ashes"
"Satellite Skin"
"Black Cadillacs"
"Lampshades on Fire"
"Whenever You Breathe Out, I Breathe In (Positive Negative)"
"Autumn Beds"
"King Rat"
"Wicked Campaign"
"3rd Planet"
"Heart Cooks Brain"
"The Tortoise and The Tourist"
"Doin’ The Cockroach"
"World at Large"


"Fire It Up"
"Parting of the Sensory"
"The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box"
"Trailer Trash"

Encore 2

"This Devil’s Workday"
"Float On"
"Sugar Boats"