Becoming attached to any particular album by an artist is a natural event, but not always so easy to do. For fans of Minus the Bear, it could be tough to say that any of their fantastic albums is really their “best”, but I think it’s fair to say that their most fun album would be They Make Beer Commercials Like This. The seven-song EP turns 10 years old this year, and along with promoting the release of their latest album Lost Loves, the band has been celebrating with a tour that has featured the EP in its entirety and a grip of tunes from their vast catalog.
They Make Beer Commercials Like This was the first album that I had every heard by Minus the Bear, and I have always loved it, so I was very excited to be able to see the album performed live from front to back. Opening up the evening was Mansions, an indie-rock trio from Seattle by way of Louisville, Ky. They were a perfect pairing for the night, bringing an alt-centric set of songs at just the right length. Singer/guitarist Christopher Browder’s refreshingly clean vocal approach set nicely atop the steady drums and fuzzed-out bass. I would highly recommend this band for fans of Death Cab for Cutie, HUM, Ume and Placebo — just to name a few.
As Minus the Bear took the stage, the sold-out crowd let out a mighty roar in approval, ready to rock. Singer Jake Snider greeted the crowd and said, “They Make Beer Commercials Like This”, to which the crowd gleefully responded in delight. As the band maneuvered through each track on the album, the crowd gladly sang along and at many times began dancing (it is OK to move around at indie-rock shows, FYI). Every member of the band was on point. Guitarist Dave Knudson’s signature tapping and guitar-pedal manipulation has always been a focal point for (musical) gearheads out there — yours truly included. The sounds he is able to create and replicate live are continually impressive. Bassist Cory Murchy and fill-in drummer (and drum tech for the band) Kieffer Matthias kept the rhythm high and tight while synth player Alex Rose filled in the gaps with spacey pads and buzzy square waves. A key ingredient in the Minus the Bear mix has always been the smooth vocal stylings of Snider. Never abrasive, but also never subdued, Snider lets you know that tonight is going to be fun — and you believe it.
Following the completion of the album, the band continued with cuts from Menos El Oso, Infinity Overhead, Planet of Ice, Omni, and from its latest album Lost Loves. Lost Loves is actually a collection of never-before-released tracks, all of which bare (but not bear, haha) that familiar Minus the Bear quality of dynamic instrumentation, crystal-clear vocals and high-quality production. Ending the night was the song “Knights”, which in this guy’s opinion, may be one of the best songs ever written. It’s the perfect length, has a hook that just kills and is just damn fun to move your feet to.
As the band left the stage, they thanked the crowd and the crowd responded in kind. Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening and proof that Minus the Bear are still bringing it live.