Reviews

The Game of Monogamy

Author: Adam Barnett
12/14/2010 | The217.com | the217.com/articles/view/minus_the_bear_fills_canopy_club | Live Show Preview
When Canopy Club fills with hipsters, bros, drunken 40 year-olds, and even normal college students, it's clear that something interesting is about to unfold. That was Minus the Bear's concert in Champaign on December 11.

Brooklyn-based emo band New Idea Society opened up the show with their slow, mostly instrumental tune "All Alone," but quickly changed pace to a set full of upbeat, dance-worthy tunes filled with classy instrumental breakdowns and catchy, rhythmic, analog blips from a synthesizer. Their catchiest song of the night (I'm pretty sure the vocalist claimed was about Budapest) featured a style very similar to the power-pop tendencies of early 2000's OK Go or even Fountains of Wayne, combined with the vocalist's spot-on, high-registered vocals attributable to New Idea Society's emo-pop roots. Overall, they evoked a pretty high level of energy from the crowd in preparation for Tim Kasher and Minus the Bear. Along with the beanie-clad drummer, who seemed to love and have fun with every second on stage, the whole band seemed really into their music. But, an emphasis on blunt lyrics like "I don't know who I am at all" hindered my ability to completely appreciate their music, and by the end of their last song on their last day of touring with Minus the Bear, New Idea Society seemed to run out of new ideas and their overall energy.

What rendered this show pretty interesting was the inclusion of Tim Kasher as main support. Known for his work as the front man for Saddle Creek bands Cursive and The Good Life, Kasher's new solo project under his own name is a folkier amalgamation of his collective previous works, which stands out as much different stylistically from New Idea Society or Minus the Bear's alternative/math rock style. After a relatively long while of waiting, Kasher finally grabbed his acoustic guitar, announced "That was a demonstration of what it looks like to get f---ed up the a--," and started with his super upbeat, ridiculously catchy, trumpet backed "Bad, Bad Dreams." Kasher's performance was definitely the most dynamic and interesting set of the evening, and that might be a result of him playing a few songs from his other bands or the general diversity of songs on his solo record. His band, made up of Kasher on vocals and guitars, a drummer, violinist, and keyboardist/trumpet player flowed from driving pop tune "Cold Love," to slower-tempo, post hardcore "Empty Bed" from Kasher's second album with The Good Life, Black Out. Kasher went out on a limb and covered a unique, very "Tim Kasher" version of David Bowie's "Soul Love." Surprisingly, he also performed a stylistically different, but amazing version of "Driftwood: A Fairy Tale" from the popular Cursive album, The Ugly Organ, to the delight of Cursive fans strewn about the room singing (or yelling) along. His conversational tone throughout the whole show while speaking or singing combined with his band's fantastic musicianship and stage presence really stood out as one of the best and most modest sets I've ever had the pleasure of listening to.

Finally, the standing room filled to its capacity, the balcony seats all had butts, and people were still drunkenly clambering from the bars to get a glimpse of headliners, Minus the Bear. As soon as they started with the alt. rock "Secret Country" off their 2010 release Omni, it was obvious that this was going to be that archetypal rock concert depicted in movies. Bright spotlights and strobes of colors ranging from white, to green, to purple. Throngs of crazy fans all reaching up into the air towards the band to somehow get closer, or because there's no room to put their hands at their sides. Crowd surfing, people jumping on stage. Then there's the band itself playing everything from their post-rock, effect-driven "Into the Mirror" to "Animal Backwards," a guitar-less, dark, electro pop tune driven by a funky little instrument called a chordophone. Minus the Bear also displayed some Incubus-y tendencies combined with their definitive guitar-tapping math rock in songs like "I'm Totally Not Down With Rob's Alien." Jake Snider encouraged the audience to "dance [their] asses off!" But the audience seemingly required no advice, considering the amount of movement going through the crowd all at once, especially during their super-gutsy, electronics-heavy performance of "My Time." Eventually, though, their set seemed to get a bit boring, most likely due to a gradual loss of energy, a set that might've been a bit too loud, and repetitive elements in a lot of the band's songs. But, the crowd still stayed strong for the duration of the set, as well as an encore of two very identifiable Minus the Bear songs, "Knights" and the ever-popular and incredibly catchy "Pachuca Sunrise." The overarching feelings that stemmed from excitement, the radiance of an incredibly talented band and the hypnotic dance grooves of "Pachuca Sunrise" really made up for the false ending to an overall great set and turned it into all the fun of an epic rave in the woods minus the trees…and bears.
The Game of Monogamy

The Game of Monogamy

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