US Open of Surfing
This year's US Open of Surfing's musical event day number two was as crazy and chaotic as always, prompting the drunkest, sun burnt, and heat exhausted audience members to turn it into the US Open of Crowd Surfing. Indie musicians Modest Mouse headlined this year's US Open in Huntington Beach with local musician Matt Costa opening up the show.
For an action sports event based on surfing, it's odd how the real highlight for a lot of people is the music. However, it becomes obvious when you hear who the past year's artists have been, that the free concerts are a highlight for the annual event. Last year's headliners Best Coast and Grouplove–who were in heavy rotation on many radio stations at the time with their single “Tongue Tied”–attracted droves to the HB Pier. Two years before that, you had Weezer and MGMT headlining.
The sky filled with dust from a sandstorm caused by the endless sea of moving people dragging their feet and squashing together to get closer to the stage. In the mix of airborne particles, there was also larger objects like water bottles, shoes, Frisbees, flip-flops, towels, beach balls, and t-shirts being thrown in every direction. No matter where you were, the scene was chaos. One minute you are helping a crowd surfer, the next you know you are being bombarded by something thrown from hundreds of feet away. Standing on the 4ft x 4ft plot directly in the middle of the crowd, designated for cameras is where I was.
Matt Costa opened the show playing his signature brand of singer-songwriter indie rock. Throughout his set, you could feel the crowd growing more and more anxious for the headliner. Between chants from patriotic crowd members yelling “U-S-A! U-S-A!” other chants of “Modest Mouse” were being yelled. Hoping the opening band could run through their set a little faster is one thing, but only at the OC bro-filled, free outdoors concert like “The Open” will fans be that vocal about their impatience.
Finally, after a delayed setup time, pointless babbling from an announcer, and some onstage interviews with competing surfers and the day before's opening act FMLYBND did the headliner come out. Modest Mouse came out swinging with two older songs the true fans would enjoy. The band strayed away from the crowd pleaser songs and stuck to a set of unrecorded new songs, older songs, and a few deep cuts.
Throughout Modest Mouse's set there were screeches that would completely overpower the vocals with loud ear piercing, high-pitched feedback. However the mix was pretty good when there wasn't feedback, Isaac Brock's vocals could be heard clearly. The crowd's volume only became a problem once in the set. Halfway through one of the bands quieter songs "Gravity Rides Everything” some rambunctious members of the crowd began chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!” After the song Brock addressed the crowd saying, "that's awesome, you guys are great at that… Knowing where you are.”
By the end of the set it seems the non-paying, less-informed crowd members had had it with the older songs and very few radio singles. For the last few songs of the bands set some audience members were shouting "Float On,” the bands most popular and radio- friendly song that definitely helped in the booking of this show. However Modest Mouse wasn't saving it till the end, like most fans thought, they weren't going to play it all. When the band exited the stage on their song "Fly Trapped In a Jar” I also assumed they would be back out to play "Float On” as an encore. As soon as the band left the crowd was chanting "FLOAT ON! FLOAT ON!” I for one was happy to see the band refuse to play the most out-of-character song they have ever written.
The crowd: A mix of drunk bikini wearing girls, douche bags with "Free Hugs” written a crossed their beauty muscles, bro's in their mid-forties, a couple of people who looked like they were there because they liked Modest Mouse.
Overheard in the crowd: "They didn't play their one good song”
Random Notebook Dump: I don't care if Kurt Cobain comes back to life and Nirvana is the headliner next year, I'm never going to the US Open again.
Modest Mouse's Set List
Be Brave (new)
I Came As a Rat
Shit In Your Cut (new)
Ocean Breathes Salty
Fire It Up
Bury Me With It
Heart of Mine
Gravity Rides Everything
Fly Trapped In a Jar