You can say what you want but you’re not forgiven

Magnificent bastard

Magnificent bastard

Let me tell you the origin story of why I Will Punch Isaac Brock in the Face When I Meet Him. It goes back a few years, around 2003 or 2004 when Modest Mouse came to San Francisco to play a show at the Fillmore. I had been a big fan of the band for years, but each attempt to watch them live had been unsuccessful. When I finally bought tickets for the Fillmore concert, you can imagine how much anticipation I built into the experience.

The Shins kicked off the night with an energetic opening set. The air hummed with cell phone rings and ice hitting the sides of glass tumblers during the intermission. Then Modest Mouse walked onstage to a thunderous barrage of clapping hands. Most of Isaac Brock’s face was hidden by a bandanna, and in that muffled state, he explained how he had caught a nasty cold and could only sing a limited part of the band’s repertoire. I remained hopeful in spite of this development.

The band played a few songs, as images danced and lurched via projector on the wall behind them. Then they launched into a familiar song from The Lonesome Crowded West. The recorded version of “Cowboy Dan” lasts for roughly six minutes. The live version I saw that night dragged on for at least twenty-five. And I’m not talking about a twenty-five-minute-long improvisational interplay between guitar, bass, and drum parts. This was more than twenty minutes of droning and unvaried aural vomit, set to a picture of what might have been a dead bird’s eye. For the first five minutes, I was engaged. For the next five minutes, I started to become restless but remained stubbornly optimistic that the resolution to all the unmitigated noise would blow my mind. But five minutes after that point, the power of positive thinking had dissolved with the aches I felt in my feet and my ears. The sound of peoples’ lighters hissing to bring their pipes to life sounded more interesting. And after about five minutes more passed, I had just grown angry at the band for wasting my time. I think I stayed for maybe two or three songs more.

It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed some of Modest Mouse’s work since that concert. Their trajectory from locally beloved Northwestern freaks to wildly popular pop sensation stands as a kind model of what success can look like. But after that show, even before I had an inkling I would ever move to Portland, OR, I vowed that if I ever met Isaac Brock, I would punch him in the face. The cold may not have been Brock’s fault, but the twenty-five-minute-and-then-some bout of self-indulgence certainly was.

I’m not a creep about my intentions. I don’t stalk the Belmont district, staring every man I encounter hard in the face. But if I finally met the target of my vendetta, I always thought it would be a pretty entertaining visual sequence, at least more interesting than a dead bird’s eye. Of course, then Modest Mouse one-upped my efforts and enlisted the expertise of Kevin Willis, who has produced several videos for Tool. With Willis’ help, they hit upon a video concept to accompany the single, “Satellite Skin,” which is part of an EP entitled No One’s First and You’re Next, scheduled for release in August. The result is dressed in those solemn colors, save for a splash of red now and then, you remember from the Tool videos, not to mention that signature puppetry performed in jerky, arresting movements. It could be a Gothic fairy tale, where the toothed birdhouses might be the villains. Or maybe the bad guys are the pointy-hat clad people wandering through the woods with an alien in tow. Or maybe the birds that feature so exuberantly in the climax of the song are what we should fear the most. It’s safe to say that any heroes in this story, much like a lot of Modest Mouse’s work, aren’t simple to spot. The same will not be said for my footage of when I Punch Isaac Brock in the Face When I Meet Him.

“Satellite Skin”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Satellite Skin“, posted with vodpod



1 Response to “You can say what you want but you’re not forgiven”

  1. 1 ignigergist January 2, 2010 at 5:05 AM

    I highly enjoyed reading this blogpost, keep on writing such exciting articles!!

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