Concert Review: Minus the Bear thrills Rock & Roll Hotel with tech-heavy set
Minus the Bear, a five-piece outfit from Seattle, brought its endearingly unconventional blend of alternative rock to the Rock & Roll Hotel on Oct. 19.
Undeterred by the chilly Sunday evening, concertgoers packed into the venue for a wide-ranging performance spanning Minus the Bear’s impressive 13-year career.
After setting up elaborate pedalboards and keyboard rigs, Minus the Bear took the stage and was immediately met with cheers and applause. After opening with new songs like “Electric Rainbow” from its recently released album “Lost Loves,” the band launched into songs spanning its impressive catalogue.
Songs like “My Time” from the band’s lukewarm record, “Omni” sounded much better when performed live, but set highlights were almost entirely from the critically acclaimed albums “Menos El Oso,” “Highly Refined Pirates” and “Planet of Ice.” Performances of “Pachuca Sunrise” and “Monkey!!!Knife!!!Fight!!!” were met with deafening applause from the crowd.
While vocalist Jake Snider and lead guitarist Dave Knudson showcased their individual talents, drummer Erin Tate proved to be the group’s stand-out musician. His ability to coordinate multiple changes in rhythm, as well as blend and blur styles ranging from math-rock to hardcore, kept the set moving with surgical precision. It’s rare that drummers outshine frontmen or lead guitarists, but shuffling through two – sometimes three – time signatures in a single song would be near impossible without Tate’s seriously impressive drum work.
After closing the main set with fan favorite “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse,” Minus the Bear obliged the crowd’s call for an encore but politely dismissed calls for particular songs.
“Go ahead, shout whatever you want, we’ve never taken a request, ever,” Snider joked. “We have a list, man! It’s right here on the monitor!”
The crowd was pleased, however, when the band launched into an extended performance of its popular song “Knights” – which was, incidentally, the predominant request. Amidst cheers and applause, Minus the Bear left the stage passing out high fives and fist bumps throughout the front row, capping the evening with good-natured crowd interaction that’s sure to earn them a return invite to D.C. anytime.