by Matt Kelchner
Seattle rockers Minus the Bear are taking some time this year to look back on their impressive body of work. Their latest album, Lost Loves, isn’t exactly a new record for the group. Instead, it is a collection of unreleased tracks that were recorded for their previous three albums.
Minus the Bear came into Philadelphia Saturday night not only to show off the “new” songs from Lost Loves, but to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of their They Make Beer Commercials Like This EP as well. For a band with such an extensive catalog like Minus the Bear, they really dug deep to bring out the deep tracks Saturday, a move that not one person in the crowd regretted by the end of the night.
Joining them on tour and opening the show Saturday night were the heavy-hitting Atlanta group O’Brother. While coming across as a puzzling pick for a supporting band at first, O’Brother quickly showed that they were just the right band to kick things off that night.
Leaning more towards a more alt-metal sound, each song contained layers upon layers of densely written parts. Tone set aside, tracks like “Oblivion” demonstrated a more complex and intricate songwriting style that is easily relatable to that of Minus the Bear. After a lengthy 45-minute set (comprised of only a handful of songs though), the crowd was fired up and ready for more.
It’s been a long time since Minus the Bear were touring venues the size of Underground Arts. The last time they played Philadelphia, they sold out the Electric Factory. Saturday night’s show was sold out way in advance, and walking through the crowd it felt like it. As the five guys walked out on stage, they were greeted with a wildly loud roar from the audience.
They kicked off the show playing the first six tracks off They Make Beer Commercials Like This. For the longtime fans, this was the full, original EP (it was later re-released with “Houston We Have Uh Oh” added at the end). Despite the age of these songs, and the fact that many have not been played in quite some time, each sounded flawless. The most impressive sight of the night was seeing guitarist Dave Knudson’s hands and fingers dance around the neck of his guitar as he played through the tangled and tricky guitar parts from songs like “Fine +2 Pts” and “Let’s PLay Clowns”.
As the night went on, the setlist opened up into their other albums. A handful of songs from Lost Loves were thrown into the mix as well. Each blended right in with the crowd favorites. Songs like “The Lucky Ones” and “Electric Rainbow” were just as well received as tunes like “The Fix” and “Dr. L’Ling”.
Minus the Bear closed out their set with some of their most well-known and loved tracks. Starting with “Pachuca Sunrise” and following up with “Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!” had the crowd singing their loudest. That was until the first few notes of “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” rang out. A seasoned track for the band, they ending things on a high note and left the crowd cheering for more.
After a few minutes, they emerged back on stage. Sweaty and exhausted they launched into the final track off of They Make Beer Commercials Like This, “Houston We Have Uh Oh”. With the crowd already abuzz, they followed up the classic track with another, “Knights”. Again the entire room was filled with fans singing along to the final song of the night. Minus the Bear may have played to a room much smaller than their typical venue, but they played just like it was one much larger. For the lucky ones who managed to grab tickets for this intimate performance, they were treated with a show for the ages. Next time Minus the Bear comes back around, we can only hope they treat us again to some of these older classics.
Head on over to our Facebook page to see photos from the tour stop.