The things I put up with to see good music. Wednesday night, one of my favorite bands of all time, who I consider to be severely underrated, came to Melkweg in Amsterdam: Minus the Bear. Unfortunately, they were the opening band for Jimmy Eat World. As this isn’t 2001 that didn’t really boost my interest in the night.
Some back story. Minus the Bear has been playing out of Seattle since the early 00s, evolving out of groundbreaking hardcore bands Botch, and Kill Sadie. Their earlier albums had more of an element of humor in the song and album titles including “Bands like when you yell ‘Yarr!’ at them”, “Hey, Wanna Throw Up? Get Me Naked” and “Thanks For The Killer Game Of Crisco® Twister”. These titles are sort of ironic, as they don’t prepare you for the intricate guitar work, and meaningful lyrics. Later albums are less juvenile in title.
The band’s name apparently comes from a story where one of the band members was asked about a date he had been on, and his response was “Remember that T.V. show ‘BJ and the Bear’? Well it was like that, minus the bear”. And thus, a band name was coined.
Minus the Bear’s sound is hard for me to describe. The double tap work of guitarist Dave Knudson, mixed with the atmospheric keyboards of Alex Rose (formally Matt Bayles) is truly unique. I guess you could call them indie rock. The guys I was at the concert with who hadn’t heard them before really liked them and equated them to Kings of Leon, or Incubus (though I take offense to that, haha).
MtB’s latest release is this year’s OMNI. Not their best. They’ve been keeping their sound throughout their near decade long existence, and although I’m not tired of it, I think they maybe running out of directions for it to go. A couple stand out tracks include “My Time” and “Into the Mirror”.
Since they were the opener, they maybe played for 35 – 40 minutes. Mixed with old and new songs. I’ve seen them about 5 times now, and this time they were on a bigger stage than usual, though they really don’t need it as most members don’t explore the stage that much. It may sound like I’m underselling their performance. I hope not, because they were incredibly tight. Some of their songs can’t be that easy to play, but they rocked it hard. It was a pleasure to see them, with great lighting and sound. I could have watched them for two more hours.
Now, I would be kind of a dick for mentioning anything of Jimmy Eat World, since they were the headliners. I used to listen to JEW back in the Bleed American days. To be honest, until I saw this concert listing I didn’t even know they were still around. They just released their seventh studio album though, called “Invented”. Most people will know them by their radio saturated hit single “The Middle”. It’s a cute little uplifting pop song with lyrics that could probably be the theme song for the It Gets Better campaign.
That’s about all I know of JEW though. I recognized the first song, and I recognized the last two in the encore, but the rest of the show was new ground for me. I’ll say, I didn’t hate it. It’s not really the style of music I listen to anymore, but the crowd was really into it, and the drummer was kind of bearishly hot, so they had that going for them. At one point during the end of the show some jerk stage dived into the crowd right into this petite girl, and ended up crushing her. She got up and was probably alright, but her boyfriend was consoling her tears. Funny thing was all of band except for the singer had obviously noticed and kind of got lost playing the song.
All in all, a great concert. 4.5 / 5 arbitrary stars for Minus the Bear. I’ll see them any time we’re in the same city. 3.5 / 6 for Jimmy Eat World. They get the points for putting on a good show, but from my perspective the music could have been better.