Minus The Bear, The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, CA – 5/26

Samuel Martin on June 6, 2010

Photos by Kelsey WinterkornHailing from the epicenter of the Grand Northwest, Seattle, Minus The Bear entertained a packed house at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco.

A line of fans stretched around the historic building as the usual pat down and ticket scanning took place. The mood was electric with anticipation. Everest, who opened for MTB on the better part of this tour, put on a high-energy show. Having just released On Approach, their second album in mid-April, the depth of new material that they had to play for the filling Regency seemed limitless. Lead singer and guitarist Russell Pollard contorted his body as the entire band put off a vibe of whole-hearted Los Angeles Rock and Roll. Their music was intense and at times electrifying. Their set was a fitting opener for MTB, being a bit harder, and less exploratory than Minus The Bear yet it grabbed the attention of the many fans in attendance.

Then Minus The Bear came out and after plugging in their instruments, they delved in “Digging,” a driving and punchy song off their second album, 2005’s Menos el Oso. The band sounded sharp and the acoustics in the upper balcony of the Regency’s Ballroom are near pitch perfect. Jake Snider’s voice was a little off at first but after a few songs it seemed to warm up and he sounded as intensely sharp as the band. The next two songs were off of 2007’s, _Planet of Ice, followed by material from Omni, their latest release. Out in early May, it has done well on the alternative charts, but there is nothing alternative about it. Exploratory, funky, driving and spacey yes. “My Time,” the first single off Omni_, is funky with an electric sound and a linear effect at the opening of the song.

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Showing that Omni has range and diversity, they played “Summer Angel”, a power ballad that starts off with distorted guitar, goes near quiet for Snider’s singing, and then with both guitars powering the song, it seemed to be down and dirty rock. But Minus the Bear took it and jammed it out for another five minutes, allowing each member to solo. Bassist Cory Murchy, somewhat overlooked and unheard all night, played a rolling bass-line and his consistency had a powerful quality. Dave Knudson’s guitar work was amazing, as he used his instrument in many platforms hitting the wah-wah pedal and playing power chords that pierced, while laying a funky foundation.

As the show went on Snider showed leadership as when a minor scuffle broke out in the thick of the dance floor, he confronted the guilty parties. And then between songs he said, “Who fights at a Minus The Bear concert?” He went on to say, “We’re all adults here, you should know this, let’s have fun.”

The show allowed MTB to showcase what seams to be a little bit of Pink Floyd influence in their music. The group jammed out a couple songs to a pure electronic, almost floating space, with Erin Tate’s altered drum beats and the blending of synth and keyboards while the duo of guitarists played minimally. It could be really mellow at times, and other times super heavy fast, almost punk rock. Ending the show with a very promising and driving new tune from Omni called “Dayglow Vista Rd,” Snider’s vocals couldn’t have sounded tighter as the rhythm section kept the pulse of this catchy and fun song.

After a brief disappearance, the band came back out on stage for a nice three-song encore. Opening with “The Fix,” they then played “Into the Mirror” from Omni. It was laid out as a very intricate song, that opens with layered organ sounds; very reminiscent of the playing of Ray Manzerek of The Doors. They finished with a slowly building version of “Absinthe Party At The Fly Honey Warehouse” from their 2002 debut album Highly Refined Pirates and one of their best tunes.

All in all, Minus the Bear came and did what they had to do and then some. The played hit songs, offered tracks from each of their albums, introduced us to the goods on the new release, spaced out some tunes, and even managed to lay down the law when needed. All in all, aside from some off key vocals during the opening few songs,it was a great show and the psychedelia and curiosity in their music should keep people coming back.