Seeing a band almost eight years after you got into them is a weird, yet fulfilling, experience. Throughout Minus the Bear‘s set, certain songs took me back to 10th grade when I first listened to Menos El Oso on my everyday bus ride to school. As much as I wish the band sounded like they once did, a lot of time has passed and they are definitely different, but not bad. Last Monday, Minus the Bear headlined an almost full house at Emo’s.
The New Trust, a band out of Santa Rosa, Calif., was first on the bill. They played about five songs for a little over 25 minutes, which was 22 minutes longer than most wanted to listen to. I’d give them the benefit of the doubt; maybe it was an off night, but the band just didn’t match well. The only way I could describe it to you is: mom and dad garage-rock. It was like a bad, “punk” Nickelback. The highlight was the drummer. Girl drummers almost always rule and she was no exception. While they were not my cup of tea, some people in the front seemed to know their music so I can imagine that they might be a band that sounds better on record.
Up next was Tera Melos. This Sacramento band, known as math rock innovators, is no stranger to the music scene but recently, they have caught the attention of bigger music news outlets like Rolling Stone. Their most recent release X’ed Out is said to follow a much more standard structure than their past releases. Not even halfway through the first song, it was obvious that Tera Melos was exceptionally better than the first band. Guitarist Nick Reinhart has an undeniable talent with pedals and incorporating them into their experimental tunes. His stage presence was wild and somewhat rough, but everyone ate it up. This might be a weird musical comparison but I felt that Tera Melos’ newer songs’ sound could potentially be labeled as Blink-182 and Brand New’s “love child.” It’s weird, I know. Throughout their set, there were times where the lyrics were hard to make out but of the ones I heard, I liked them. It made me want to delve deeper into their music. Needless to say, Tera Melos brought the noise and had everyone in the crowd excited for the main attraction.
As Minus the Bear stepped onto the stage, I noticed that the band members definitely looked older but almost the same, with the same shaggy rock band hairstyles I remembered, but as my friend enjoyed pointing out, “they’re all married!” They started off the set with the opening track on Planet of Ice “Burying Luck,” which had the whole room cheering with excitement. An oldie is always a good way to start with the fans. Their 17-song set was made up of tracks from a number of their older albums. The older tracks were favorites and as much as I’ve said that it was obvious time had passed, lead singer/guitarist Jake Snider’s pipes were still strong as ever throughout each song.
Guitarist Dave Knudson’s high-energy playing was getting the crowd more excited each time he made his way closer to the edge of the stage. They slowed it down during the fifth song in as the band played “Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo” from their first full-length Highly Refined Pirates. During “Part 2” from Planet of Ice, keyboardist Alex Rose broke out a sax which made fans melt. When they played two tracks from Acoustics II, all eyes were on the stage as the band brought down the energy in the room. Almost everyone was singing along as he played “Absinthe Party at the Honey Fly Warehouse,” an old favorite. The end of the show was nearing and it seemed as if an encore was not going to happen considering they were playing some great tracks from Menos El Oso and Planet of Ice but they still hadn’t played the track most people knew them for. Right as the band exited, everyone stood in place knowing that they’d be back for at least one more. Only a few moments passed before they ran right back out and closed the show with two more songs. As I had guessed, they saved “Pachuca Sunrise” for last and it was killer. When a band has the ability to bring you back with a song they wrote over eight years ago, they have got to be doing something right.
Minus the Bear played at Emo’s in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 16.