Minus the Bear– The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco
(Nov 22, 2015)
Written by Erica Andreozzi
After two impressive opening performances from Aero Flynn and Murder by Death, the SOLD OUT crowd at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall was all warmed up for a groove-a-thon to be brought on by the eternally youthful Seattle rockers, Minus the Bear (MTB). This show was part of a tour honoring the 10th anniversary of MTB’s breakthrough 2005 album, Menos el Oso, and we wanted in on the cheery celebration. It had been over two years since I saw MTB back in London (The Garage), and I could not WAIT to be transported back into that happy hypnotic trance that these progressive rockers once put me in.
Despite having formed nearly 15 years ago, this rock quintet — Jake Snider (vocals, guitar), Dave Knudson (guitar), Cory Murchy (bass), and Alex Rose (synths, vocals) — came DASHING OUT ON STAGE and picked up their instruments like college kids ready to play a debut show. Quick to not waste any time, MTB jumped RIGHT into the set, pounding endless energy and life back into each old song. Their endless energy and exuberant edge had us instantly convinced that albums like Menos el Oso have no expiration date, and we hope it won’t take them too long to revive their next collection of “old songs.”
Although I always typically post up on at front left of the stage, I didn’t realize that for tonight’s show, this decision would result in some INSANELY LUCKY consequences. My spot placed me directly opposite Dave Knudson, MTB’s lead guitarist who is always HILARIOUS and eternally entertaining to watch as he pulls off tricks on guitar that you never knew existed. With my eyes already fixated on his adroit guitar riffs, they nearly BUGGED OUT OF THEIR SOCKETS when Dave launched in my direction and played guitar right IN THE FACE of the guy standing to the right of me. Dave looked him in the eyes with a smirk, and later I learned that this guy was an avid fan (maybe even their #1) that had seen MTB 25 times in the past. DIE-HARD.
CRAZY ODDS that I would have ended up NEXT to this avid fan, reaping off the benefits of his die-hard dedication and MTB loyalty. Dave continued to treat us to some GUITAR IN THE FACE action throughout the entire set, and you could see him getting his kicks off of our gaping grins. He even summoned the girl carrying a Happy Birthday balloon to come up to the stage and then proceeded to take the balloon and tie it to the end of his guitar shaft. The aggressive guitar maneuvers accompanying Dave’s signature head nods and lingering leg kicks had the balloon detached and off to heaven after only two songs. At least it was a funny spectacle while it lasted!
Another funny spectacle was watching Dave playfully taunt everyone on stage while playing, especially the drummer and keyboardist (Alex). I often caught Dave and Alex ramming into each other during a few of the songs, tastefully teasing one another as if they needed an additional distraction (the music alone was too easy) and wanted to deliver some extra entertainment. All I know is that there was PLENTY OF ENTERTAINMENT this entire MTB groove-a-thon, so much so that my heels were throbbing by the end. My body was run through a blender (in a good way!) trying to keep up with all the intricate melodies, and I was BEAT and BEAMING by the end. I gave it ALL I HAD for the EPIC ENCORE of ‘Into the Mirror,’ and I’m certain I was not the only one.
Next time — hopefully in 2017 to revisit MTB’s ‘Planet of Ice‘ — I’ll have come equipped with Nike and Adidas sneaks, just like Dave and Jake. 🙂