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Review Thu Oct 13 2011

Review: Minus the Bear @ the Metro


Photo by Katie Karpowicz

Ten years ago, five seasoned Seattle musicians got together to form the group that would soon be known as Minus the Bear. Nine years ago, that band released their debut album Highly Refined Pirates. On Tuesday night Minus the Bear celebrated their ten-year anniversary and performed Pirates from front to back in front of a sold-out crowd at the Metro.

While further releases from Minus the Bear have taken the band's sound in a darker, more isolated direction--their third album was aptly named Planet of Ice--the band's performance of Pirates brought the members back to a poppier era of their career. However, the classic Minus the Bear song structure was still very much present on stage. The songs were intricate and highly technical but still maintained easy listenability and evoked a packed room of bobbing heads.


Photo by Katie Karpowicz

Singer/guitarist Jake Snider's rich vocals and the atmospheric blips and swells a la MTB's synth operator Alex Rose create an ever-present dreamy quality in both the band's live and studio sound, but it's the percussive dynamic that exists between lead guitarist Dave Knudson (formerly of math-rock favorites Botch) and drummer Erin Tate that truly kept the energy at full blast Tuesday evening. Driving low-end toms and rapid high-hat taps helped drive Knudson's top-string fretboard-tapping melodies. Minus the Bear's songs--from Highly Refined Pirates to their most recent release 2010's Omni--have always thrived off unique rhythms and abstract timing, and it's these two that can take much of the credit for that.

After wrapping up their performance of Pirates with a bit of an extended jam session tacked onto the tail end of the record's outerlude "Booyah Achieved," the band members took a brief break from the stage and returned with an even older track. Minus the Bear kicked off their five-song encore with a song ("Just Kickin' It Like a Wild Donkey") off their debut release, a seven-track EP put out in 2001, much the audience's delight before returning to the later half of their discography. Songs like the passion-driven "Throwin' Shapes" off Planet of Ice and the jaunty "Into the Mirror" from Omni wound out Minus the Bear's ten-year celebration on Tuesday and put to rest any doubts in a band's ability to remain relevant after a decade. Judging by the reactions from both the band and their post-collegiate, flannel adorned fanbase, neither one is going anywhere as long as the other is still around.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

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