It should have been a triumphant moment when Modest Mouse headlined 107. 7-FM/The End's "Deck the Hall Ball 2004" Thursday night at KeyArena. After all, not only was the local...

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It should have been a triumphant moment when Modest Mouse headlined 107.7-FM/The End’s “Deck the Hall Ball 2004” Thursday night at KeyArena. After all, not only was the local group deservedly at the top of an international bill of cutting-edge rock bands, the show came in the same week Modest Mouse was nominated for two Grammys — their first nominations — and was named Spin magazine’s band of the year.

But, unfortunately, Modest Mouse’s big homecoming night was part of a holiday radio-station benefit concert in which six bands were crammed onto a bill, which meant that none of them got adequate playing time, even though the show lasted nearly six hours.

Not only were the set times short — from 35 to 75 minutes — but the bands shared the same sound equipment, which resulted in, at best, uneven sound and, at worst, squawks, squeaks and feedback.

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The show had poor production throughout, with the same lighting schemes used over and over, and not one video screen. Due to the time constraints, none of the acts — not even Modest Mouse — got an encore.

The big crowd, many of them packed near the front of the stage the whole time, made the best of it, giving all the bands their enthusiasm and attention. But, not surprisingly, a chorus of boos went up when Modest Mouse quickly excited the stage after only a dozen songs, and the lights went up a second later.

While the set was short, Modest Mouse made the best of it, with a tight, rocking performance. A band that was playing mostly clubs up until early this year, it showed itself more than ready to join the ranks of arena bands, which it no doubt will this summer.

Starting with “Interstate 8,” and ending with “Cowboy Dan,” which had an added reference to the White House to underscore that the wild gunslinger tale is about President Bush, Modest Mouse rocked the Key, with fans dancing all over the hall. Lead singer/songwriter Isaac Brock was in an unusually buoyant mood, talking and joking with the crowd, and even bringing on Sasquatch, the Sonics’ hairy mascot, to dance onstage during, appropriately, “Wild Packs of Family Dogs,” a haunting scene of a mass dogfight Brock witnessed on his front lawn as a young boy in Issaquah.

The crowd really got moving to “The View,” probably the set’s most rocking song. The band’s breakthrough international hit, “Float On,” came early in the set and was quick and dirty. Among other songs in the set were “Black Cadillacs,” “Paper Thin Walls” and the current single, “Ocean Breathes Salty.”

Franz Ferdinand, the Scottish sensation, preceded Modest Mouse with a great set that showcased the band’s musicianship and showmanship. The short set sampled the liveliest cuts from the “Franz Ferdinand” CD, including “Take Me Out,” “Tell Her Tonight” and “Matinee.”

The Killers, in suits and ties, sang a song in praise of “indie rock,” but the Las Vegas band’s sound was more pop rock. A song with the hook “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” got the biggest response.

The Shins, who record for SubPop, played indie rock with influences ranging from rockabilly to surf music to pop, with lots of style. Keane, from England, featured fine singing. Snow Patrol, also a British band, had the bad luck to open, with the shortest set and noisy patrons still arriving.

Patrick MacDonald: 206-464-2312, pmacdonald@seattletimes.com