Everynight Charley

Pixies & Modest Mouse at Forest Hills Stadium / June 14, 2024

Alternative rock has lasted longer than anyone might have predicted when the music first went mainstream in the 1990s, and so have two of its leading proponents, Pixies and Modest Mouse. Pixies formed in 1986 in Boston, Massachusetts, and split acrimoniously in 1993, reforming with a new lineup 20 years ago. The same year that Pixies split apart, Modest Mouse formed across the country in Issaquah, Washington, later relocating to Portland, Oregon. With the release of their fourth album, Good News for People Who Love Bad News, Modest Mouse found commercial success in 2004, the same year that Pixies was re-forming.

The music of Pixies and Modest Mouse was perhaps too quirky for mainstream audiences, but found a substantial following in the booming alt-rock circuit of the 1990s and early 2000s. Pixies’ peak years started in 1989, thanks to “Monkey Gone to Heaven” and “Here Comes Your Man,” and continued to 1996, with “Letter to Memphis” and “Head On.” Modest Mouse’s peak years were mostly from 2004’s “Float On” to 2007’s “Dashboard,” with brief resurgences in 2014 with “Lampshades on Fire” and 2021 with “We Are Between.” Pixies and Modest Mouse are alt rock royalty for their respective generations.

On their first-ever tour together, Pixies and Modest Mouse focused on their catalogs rather than on recent releases. Perhaps no longer as angry or as experimental as in their college years, the musicians of both bands did not break much ground on this tour. Rather, they played the safer route, performing what has worked for them over the decades. Avoiding their most recent albums, Modest Mouse played nothing from 2021’s The Golden Casket, and Pixies performed nothing from 2022’s Doggerel. Nevertheless, both bands introduced one new song, Modest Mouse with “Third Side of the Moon” and Pixies with “Vegas Suite.”

A summary of both concert performances would be similar. In recent years, both bands recorded less frequently than in their peak years, and perform more older songs than newer songs live. Their audiences have shown more receptivity to their vintage staples. At Forest Hills Stadium, both bands satisfied their audiences by playing tight, energetic, and yet nostalgic repertoires.

Photo by Everynight Charley

“Can the houselights go down?” joked vocalist Isaac Brock, dressed in a dark suit and sunglasses as Modest Mouse began its set under the hot sun at 6:30 p.m. Modest Mouse began left of center with a nine-minute “The Stars Are Projectors,” with its changing tempos and Brock fiddling with distortion pedals and dials. From there, the music largely marched to a dance beat while Brock continued his eccentric, choppy singing style and distorted guitar leads. At one point, Brock sang into his guitar’s pickups rather than use his microphone. With mumbled lyrics challenging to discern throughout the performance, Modest Mouse’s one unreleased song, “Third Side of the Moon,” was perhaps the most sentimental song of the set. “I wish I had listened to every word you ever said, but you always spoke in whispers, and I’m not good at listening,” Brock sang. The set included a cover of the Cure’s “A Forest.”

Pixies’ vocalist/guitarist Black Francis (aka Frank Black), along with original lead guitarist Joey Santiago, original drummer David Lovering, and new bassist Emma Richardson, celebrated the 35th anniversary of the band’s groundbreaking album, Doolittle, by playing eight songs from that album. Pixies arrived on stage at 8:10 p.m. with a snarling, crunchy, “U-Mass,” “Wave of Mutilation,” and a cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On.” At 59 years of age, Francis’ vocals were still very much intact, as he moved from softer songs like the new “Vegas Suite” to bellowing, moaning, screaming, and wailing on harsher songs – particularly “Gouge Away,” “Debaser,” and the anthemic “Where Is My Mind?” – this one was the night’s penultimate song. Francis punctuated songs with his rapid-fire stop-and-start guitar work. Richardson, most recently of Band of Skulls, took the lead vocal on a cover of Peter Ivers and David Lynch’s “In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)” from Lynch’s 1977 film Eraserhead. The set closed with a rousing cover of Neil Young’s “Winterlong.”

Photo by Everynight Charley

Cat Power opened the concert at the unreasonable time slot of 5:30 to 6:00p.m. – most concert-goers were still in their rush-hour commute from their jobs to the stadium. Sorry we missed Cat Power’s brief performance.

Modest Mouse Setlist

  1. The Stars Are Projectors
  2. Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
  3. Dashboard
  4. Fire It Up
  5. Paper Thin Walls
  6. A Forest (The Cure cover)
  7. This Devil’s Workday
  8. King Rat
  9. Third Side of the Moon
  10. The World at Large
  11. Float On
  12. Doin’ the Cockroach
  13. Heart Cooks Brain
  14. Shit Luck
Photo by Everynight Charley

Pixies Setlist

  1. U-Mass
  2. Wave of Mutilation
  3. Head On (The Jesus and Mary Chain cover)
  4. Isla de Encanta
  5. Cactus
  6. Planet of Sound
  7. Vegas Suite
  8. Ana
  9. Here Comes Your Man
  10. Motorway to Roswell
  11. Gouge Away
  12. Down to the Well
  13. Caribou
  14. Hey
  15. Mr. Grieves
  16. Subbacultcha
  17. Monkey Gone to Heaven
  18. All Over the World
  19. Velouria
  20. The Happening
  21. Bone Machine
  22. Debaser
  23. In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song) (Peter Ivers & David Lynch cover)
  24. Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)
  25. Where Is My Mind?
  26. Winterlong (Neil Young cover)