This past Tuesday night, I was finally able to witness the glory that is Minus the Bear live, at the Troubadour (which is one of my favorite LA venues).
Having inexplicably missed out on their goodness for their first eight years, they have quickly ascended up my “favorite bands” list, and are definitely one of my top live acts.
The Seattle prog/experimental rock band are currently on the road celebrating 10 years as a band, and are playing their 2001 album Highly Refined Pirates in its entirety at each show.
Unlike most full album shows, they didn’t open the show with the first track; rather, they stuck the album in the middle of the set. More on that later.
Opening the sold-out night were The Lonely Forest, another Washington-based band. Their catchy and inspired style of indie pop-rock was a great warm-up for MTB, but also managed to impress quite a few people who hadn’t previously heard of the band (such as myself). Their great cover of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Listen to Her Heart was a highlight, as were songs from their 2011 album Arrows (which you should check out).
Despite a snafu with the soundboard operators who seemed to cut their set short, TLF turned in a strong 35-minute performance that left me longing to catch them again sometime soon.
After a break, MTB hit the stage around 10:30. To say they had a “great light show” wouldn’t do it any justice; they honestly have one of the more impressive light shows I’ve ever seen, and especially at such a small venue as the Troubadour.
There were moments when the strobe effects and glowing green lights obscured my view of the stage, but its dream-like feeling, combined with lead guitarist Dave Knudson’s badass finger-tapping skills, made the whole thing extremely intense and otherworldly.
Set-list wise, this was much more than just a full album show. Opening with Hey, Wanna Throw Up? Get Me Naked from 2001’s This Is What I Know About Being Gigantic EP, the band played jams spanning their entire career. After about 5 songs, the full album portion of the night began. At one point, lead vocalist Jake Snider described how happy the opportunity to celebrate 10 years made them. The band really appreciates how far they’ve come, and you could sense the enthusiasm in the way they performed the whole record.
After completing the Highly Refined Pirates segment of the night, the band left the stage, only to return a few minutes later for an encore that was highlighted by Throwing Shapes (from Planet of Ice), Omni tracks Into the Mirror and My Time, and set-capper Pachuca Sunrise (from Menos el Oso).
In all, it was one of the more impressive shows I’ve been to in awhile. Considering how long it took me to finally see Minus the Bear live, I’m now disappointed in myself for the decade I missed. They put on one of the best live shows around.
I’m already looking forward to the next one.
Below, enjoy a small photo gallery and another video from the night’s festivities. (Note: I promise to buy a decent camera sometime in the future).