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LIVE REVIEW

Minus the Bear mix old and new at Baltimore Soundstage

By Patrick Farrell, The Baltimore Sun

3:23 PM EDT, October 29, 2013

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Seattle rockers Minus the Bear are masters of their craft, and their Sunday night performance at the Baltimore Soundstage solidified the veteran band’s presence as a powerhouse in indie-electronic rock. 

The 17-song set showcased songs from every album of the band’s 13-year history while craftily balancing a mix of old and new songs to the enjoyment of the crowd.

From the get-go, it was clear that Minus the Bear was on a mission to cover the discographic spectrum. The band took the stage shortly after 10 p.m. with “Burying Luck,” from 2007’s “Planet of Ice,” and quickly led into “Lies and Eyes” from last year’s “Infinity Overhead.”

What followed was a remarkable performance that blended all the different qualities that define the band’s distinctive sound: Infectious guitar tap melodies, groovy bass lines and the catchy, shameless lyrics of frontman Jake Snider. 

Bassist Cory Murphy’s funky riffs shook the building during fan-favorite “Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo,” when Jannae Quisenberry of the opening act Slow Bird took the stage for accompanying vocals.

Quinsenberry remained on stage to sing the bridge for the sixth song of the set – “Into the Mirror” – nailing the bridge vocals as keyboardist Alex Rose hammered away at the keys, delivering the “Omni single’s contagious synth hook.

Throughout the set, interludes from the band’s first full length EP, “Highly Refined Pirates” created flawlessly smooth transitions, ensuring there was never a dull moment between songs.

The interludes served another purpose as well — subconsciously reminding long-time listeners that Minus the Bear is still, at its core, the same band they came to love over a decade ago.

Halfway through the set, the lights grew brighter, and the red and blue strobe lights, as well as fog, disappeared from the stage.

It was then Snider and guitarist Dave Knudson picked up acoustic guitars for an intimate rendition of “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse,” as the crowd shouted every word to the song’s narrative of European exploration and romance.

After following up with “Riddle,” one of the two original songs on the band’s most recent release – “Acoustics II” – the band played “Steel and Blood,” immediately hitting the audience with one of the band’s most in-your-face guitar riffs to date. 

Knudson commanded his guitar pedals and effects with wizardry, tactfully looping solos and guitar tap harmonies, all the while headbanging and maintaining an electric stage presence.

The guitarist’s energy helped carry the crowd through the remainder of the set, which came to a close with the synth-driven “Knights” and, of course, a crowd chanting for an encore.

The encore was not a tough sell. The band was back in no less than five minutes to play “Women We Haven’t Met Yet” and perhaps their most popular track, “Pachuca Sunrise.”

As Snider joked during the set, Minus the Bear is a “group of people, touring the country, playing music, drinking, and having fun,” and that positive outlook translates to their sound, both live and on record.