Farewell, Modern Mod!
with great photos from Scotify
Time and life march on.
Bands constantly form and break up and yet there was something about Modern Mod that was different. They were only together for four years but the arc of those four years was something special for the band and their supporters. How they rallied, responded to and delivered to their audience was an organic process, like the way it’s supposed to work.
There were moments during their curtain call at the High Noon Saloon on January 21st that were mightily impressive. But let’s stop right there. The High Noon Saloon. Just ponder that for a minute for these kids, wrapping up an adventure at Madison’s coolest venue to a nearly full house. And that’s not the first time they’ve played the High Noon just like all the other important venues they were able to perform in. At ages 18 to 20 that is just a remarkable feat.
So, here are some takeaways from Thursday night:
Opening with Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid,” it was immediately apparent that singer/guitarist Emily Massey has star power. It’s in her genes being the daughter of a forty-year music veteran, Mike Massey. Mike tells me she shuns most of his sage wisdom but that may be because she already understands. She’s got some new projects going and some songs to record and, given the right circumstances, has bountiful potential.
“Paranoid” wasn’t their only nod to their rock forbearers who must seem a million miles away. Their cover of Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” was sensational. But it was the first encore tune, the Who’s “I Can See for Miles,” that really struck me. How they incorporated that rock history into their own thing, muscular pop played with honest intensity.
That brings us to guitarist Calem Pocernich. I don’t know how his gear has evolved over these four years but his tone was terrific. At one point I remarked that they sounded like U2. But when they kicked into the Who’s cover I got it. Black Tele, clean but overdriven tone, power chords with open string overtones. I suddenly felt like I was looking at a young Pete Townshend and maybe I was.
I’ve been watching Alivia Kleinfeldt develop over these four years as well. The bassist struck me about a year-and-a-half ago when I realized what a great player she had become. She’s going on a West Coast tour with a Minneapolis outfit and already has a new band she’s fronting called Dash Hound. Livvy, as she’s known, is going to end up somewhere big. You can just sense these things and she has the right attitude, the drive and the chops. But you need more than that, you need luck and timing. Going on that tour is evidence and I’ve been around her just enough to know that there is some good karma going on.
Brendan Manley is simply one of the best drummers I’ve seen in Madison. The son of B-Side’s Steve Manley, he’s obviously soaked music into his soul. He also plays in Post Social, another outstanding young Madison band. Like Livvy, there is every confidence that this kid is likely to land somewhere big.
The band was in their element and in a groove Thursday night. I felt pretty emotional thinking that this may well be the last time they play together. But I also thought that if this is just the beginning of their music experiences, holy fuck, man, there is just no telling.
In the end, however there are a couple of reasons that a band like Modern Mod can have the success that they did. One is the Madison culture. An outstanding scene will breed outstanding new artists. We are witnessing it. This band played the MAMAs for chrissakes – two years ago! The second is the support their parents have given them. So here’s to the parents as Emily Massey acknowledged from the stage for their support and for literally giving birth to the band. And here’s to Madison music for birthing a great bunch in Modern Mod. Now go out and make your mark. We’re behind you.