Yes, it’s Williamsburg and there are a lot of hipsters and funny looking dudes that look like Terry Gilliam (Monty Python artist) plucked them out of a grunge era picture from Seattle. I saw one particular gentleman wearing a vintage Nirvana Nevermind hat. Perhaps, there is a store that sells those still somewhere online…but I doubt that’s where it came from. You’d have to have saved that hat, because it was in pristine condition. The thought behind that boggles me. I always wear my band/concertshit right away i.e. concert t’s, hats, bracelets, etc.
The POINT IS…I later realized the dudes I walked by were Minus the Bear. The band I was about to see were just chillin’, taking in some tasty beverages at the bar next door and conglomerating out in the street like a college frat party. True.
I stood in line to get tickets to the sold out show (I didn’t know if I wanted to go or not, so I did my walk up routine, which by the fact that I’m writing this right now was successful) and pondered how cool that is. I was in line with a bunch of other kids waiting for the show and the band everyone was about to see was 20 feet away. I wonder how many people knew?
This isn’t Mustard Plug people. It’s not any of my friends’ bands. It’s Minus the fucking Bear!? I thought about how I adored the kinetic positionability this band possesses.
I think they have it perfect. Well, perfect for what I, Ryan C. Zerfas, would want to be as a band.
First and foremost, they have a killer catalogue. They are four albums into their illustrious career, which puts them one album short of my milestone of “five albums that make a band legit.” Almost there, boys! Keep up the good work. Let’s take a look at what they’ve given us so far.
Minus the Bear Catalogue:
· Highly Refined Pirates (2002) – This is guitarist Dave Knudsen’s opus. He has the guitar tapping method method down to a science (he didn’t invent it, but he ABUSES it, boy) as well as having a plethora of effect pedals. This album is a masterpiece of up-tempo, throw the chicken on the grill, rock excellence.
· Minos El Oso (2005) – The Spanish album. Although I don’t regard this as “good” as the debut, it builds upon the sound and really mixes in more electronics and big rock choruses.
· Planet of Ice (2007) – The name creates an image of darkness and cold that the music sonically can not get away from. Despite the band name, prepare to be eaten by a baby snowy Polar Bear of rock!
· Omni (2010) – Versatility. This proves MTB can do anything they want as if it were auditioning for Paul Schafer’s old cover band show. No covers were recorded throughout the production of this album, except the colorful album cover.
That’s something I’ve always adored from bands. The ability to make albums of sonic diversification that stands alone as albums place-mark a style and time, as well as, still carrying the flag of the band.
The other thing every band needs is an X-factor. Something original that band can stand on, but isn’t necessarily known for. To me, for Minus the Bear, that’s their guitarist Dave Knudsen. I’ve never heard anyone bring up his guitar playing in a casual conversation, but they should. He really makes the band come alive on stage as well, because he’s always thrashing or tap dancing seamlessly on his guitar pedals, and we’ve already mentioned his mastery of guitar “tapping”. You really wonder how the guy is producing THOSE guitar sounds, but when you watch him, it’s just magical. More people should be talking about this.
I love the idea of having a guy like that, playing in a highly unique fashion. I remember watching in amazement during “Thanks for the Killer Game of Crisco Twister!’ as he seemingly had his right hand all the way up with his left hand on the guitar neck. In that song the guitar line just rolls out like a red carpet, although for me, it takes me on a journey like the Rainbow Road level in Mario Kart. I could even fall of the “cliff” per say, and just be spinning into darkness with inner jubilance.
Lastly, but not leastly, the fans. MTB has built a legion of partying concert-goers that are well versed in the catalogue, rowdy, and ready to rock! It’s very important. At both shows I’ve been to, the fans represent a key ingredient. It’s not that the music isn’t good or that there’s nothing else to entertain you, but the fans come through with fist-pumping energy in surplus. That’s something that you can’t always count on.
I know what you’re thinking. Every band has fans, Ryan. Yes, but what I’m saying here is the MTB nation has struck that proper medium. They don’t come off as pompous assholes like the Dave Matthews heads I associate with “fanship downfall”, but they bring the energy to the top degree—with love and friendship.
Like a hot girlfriend bringing you soup when you’re sick. It’s just what you needed, without going over the top. If your girlfriend isn’t hot, it’s still good soup, but you know what you really need to take it over the edge. Dave Matthews Band or Phish “heads” try to be Scarlett Johansson, naked with soup and cookies, but the arrogance leads to a prophetic spill that’s cringe worthy and ever burned into your rhetna’s. You’ll never get the soup and Scarlett Johansson will never be hot in your eyes again. You’re out of whammy’s, return all your “big bucks.”
Yes, MTB has the perfect amount of fanship at a rock show. People jump, but not into you. They wave their hands to the songs, but always fail to punch you in the face. They drink beer and get rowdy, but they never spill on you. If they puff…they pass. (ßI can’t actually back this up)
Let’s review the qualities we’ve talked about. The correct mediums in 1) catalogue 2) defining, but not redefining X-factor 3) fanship.
Everyone knows my favorite band is the Foo Fighters. I wouldn’t want to be them, because they are too big. Too much comes with being too big.
I like the idea of being able to play Bowery Ballroom, Webster, and Music Hall of Williamsburg instead of Madison Square Garden. They allow for big shows, lights, fans, etc without it having to be a mid-city spectacle. On the other end, shows at smaller places while cool, one knows the band cannot live properly filling Mercury Lounge. I wouldn’t want to have to get another job. I would want to music to sustain me, but with enough freedom that I could have a beer at a local establishment without getting MOBBED, yet I’d want some people to know who I was, because I AM awesome.
Unfortunately, bands are defined by their venues. If you play shows at Terminal 5 in the city, I will not see you. I like the mid-range venues and the bands that choose to and have the sack to fill them up. Even better, is a band that could be above mid-range, but is able to step down and fill it up righteously, brother.
Minus the Bear is a band everyone should see. They just opened a new leg of tours and wherever you are, you should make sure you get out and support this level of rock awesomeness.
Just don’t bring too many people with you, or their fifth album will be toured in stadiums, and I’ll have to find another band with the proper kinetic positionability to adore.
Use this knowledge with care; people…superlatives for kinetic positionability don’t come cheap.
Setlist for May 6th at Music Hall of Williamsburg
Thanks for the Killer Game of Crisco Twister!
Into the Mirror
This Ain’t a Surfing Movie
Hold Me Down
Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse