Download Festival with Modest Mouse, Guster, and more at the Tweeter Center on August 18

A review of the Download Festival with Modest Mouse, Guster, and more at the Tweeter Center on August 18, 2007

, Editor-in-Chief

Amongst the handful of entertaining sets and the various interactive activities at this year’s Download Festival, there was still something terribly missing: a crowd. A sparse number of attendees spread out across the Tweeter Center on Saturday and even with the lawn closed off, aisles in the lower shed had wide gaps of open seats. With that in mind, you can’t blame Modest Mouse’s frontman, Issac Brock for nearly inciting a riot by urging fans to rush down past security and fill the open seating. After sparking a stampede, the move propelled the band onto a much more engaging headliner set at the all-day festival.& & &

Indie favorites Modest Mouse headlined Saturday’s festival with a full 90-minute set. Much like their set at the Orpheum in May, on Saturday they mainly stuck to material off their new release, We Were Dead Even Before The Ship Sank, and their national breakthrough, Good News For People Who Love Bad News. There were a few nods to the past for longtime fans including “Paper Thin Walls” off 2000’s The Moon and Antarctica and “Out of Gas” off 1997’s The Lonesome Crowded West. Undoubtedly, however, Brock transformed the band’s set by urging the crowd to fill in the expensive seats. His command, followed by the band’s mega hit, “Float On,” inspired a true rock show that flowed into “We’ve Got Everything” and “Fire It Up.”

Much has been said about the addition of former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr to the band. On Saturday he was in fine form on the six-string and also providing backing vocals that contrasted nicely with Brock’s frantic yelping vocals. Brock brings an emotional charge that channels Frank Black and is always unpredictable. “Spitting Venom” brought an extended jam for the six-piece band (who seem to find a way to effectively use every type of instrument) to close out the set. A two-song encore started with their classic, “Trailer Trash,” and ended with “Bury Me With It.”

Guster was limited to an hour-set but certainly proved once again to be one of the most underrated bands out there, playing a charming set. The Tufts University bred band split their set with new material off last year’s Ganging Up On The Sun and old favorites. From the new tunes, “Captain” and “C’Mon” still boasted the classic Guster vibe, while “New Underground” represented the best of the band’s future direction. “What You Wish For” and “Amsterdam” inspired hometown singalongs, but it was “Come Down Stairs and Say Hello” that proved to be one of the set’s shining moments. The band closed out their 12-song set with a revamped version of old favorite “Airport Song,” done in the same fashion as the band’s two-night stand at the Opera House earlier this year.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were a pleasant surprise with their evening set on the main stage. The always-theatrical frontwoman Karen O, first clad in a black-and-white cape doused with silver tinsel, then a leopard skin leotard, led the Yeah Yeah Yeahs through an hour-long set. For the good or the bad, the live performance brought a different dimension to the band’s songs. Her beautiful studio vocals were lost as she sang, attempting to combine jumping and running with whispering and screaming. Still, she found a way for it to work effectively. Highlights from the band’s set included “Cheated Hearts,” “Turn Into,” and an unexpected acoustic rendition of “Maps.”

The main stage sets began with alt-country favorite Neko Case. Her set was highlighted by “I Wish I Was The Moon” and also included a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Buckets Of Rain.” Earlier in the day on the outside parking lot stage, Wolf Parade tested a plethora of new material off their forthcoming album while Band Of Horses delivered a solid after local rockers Apollo Sunshine and Bang Camaro delighted early attendees.

The festival’s intention to unite fans with their favorite artists was only partially successful. The master musician classes seemed absent and many of the bigger names shied away from the Q&A sessions, with the exception of Guster. Still, the autograph sessions were enough for fans while many of the bands could be found working around the grounds themselves, as they took in segments of the festival. As for ticket sales, not even two “Ten Dollar Ticket Tuesday” specials could bring more than a 1/3 capacity crowd. That was mainly due to the lack of a headliner worthy of the large venue, compared to last year when the festival was headlined by 311, a band that routinely plays the amphitheatre.

Leave a Reply