Minus the Bear The Farewell Tour
Irving Plaza, NYC
October 29, 2018
Minus The Bear, the Seattle-based indie rock darlings who amassed a huge cult following over 17 years, surprised fans in mid-July by announcing their final tour and a final EP as a parting prize. As fans bought tickets quickly, some venues were lucky enough to add a second night to the Farewell Tour. One such lucky venue was Irving Plaza in New York City, offering the devoted two nights of Minus the Bear: Saturday, October 28th and Sunday, October 29th, both shows promptly selling out. With six albums and a handful of EPs as a band, the breakup was cited as a natural progression of things, no bitter blood sport among members here. The news still hit fans hard.
In a genre of their own, meshing experimental, progressive and alt rock, Minus the Bear is made up of Jake Snider on guitar and vocals, Dave Knudson on guitar, Cory Murchy on bass and Alex Rose on keyboards. Erin Tate, a longtime member of the band on drums, left the band in 2015 and has been replaced on tour by Joshua Sparks.
Fans broke out their finest MTB garb, decked out in t-shirts and hoodies as they strutted through the doors of Irving Plaza and perused the numerous options of vinyl in color, posters, CDs and shirts at the merchandise stand. The cold night didn't deter the masses who piled into the venue in groups, huddling around the downstairs bars and lounge, bursts of cold air swirling in each time the doors opened. The anticipating in the air was electric and palpable, a mixture of excitement and sadness rolled into one show, with concert goers from Saturday night sharing stories with those who were only lucky enough to score tickets for Sunday night.
After a short but workable set by opener Caspian, Minus the Bear took the stage. Bathed in a swirling light show of purples, greens and blues, with the MTB backdrop (designed by Murchy who is quite an artist and created many of the band's swirling designs) complete with one of the logos shedding a tear. Every last detail was in place and thoughtfully presented. Even more importantly, the band came ready to rock.
The set spanned their entire 17 year career, including a new song off the latest EP called “Fair Enough” and many crowd favorites like “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse,” “Diamond Lightning,” “Let's Play Guitar in a Five Guitar Band,” “Drilling,” “Pachuca Sunrise,” “My Time” and “Throwing Shapes.” Not one for lots of chatter, Snider kept the banter to a minimum, with laser focus on the music, much to the delight of the audience. Murchy, always in motion, covered the stage effortlessly, letting his bass lead the way. Knudson spent a good portion of the night in guitar land, deep in focus and looking thoughtful as well as present in the gig. Ross, a rock of stability behind the keyboards, played with powerful intensity. The crowd became a sixth member of the band, singing along all night and making the nearly two hour set fly by, sound bouncing off the cavernous walls. As the tour bus outside stood ready to ferry the band to the next tour stop, for more fans to say goodbye, a bright moon shone down on a magical night that ended all too soon.
Photo Credit: Christine Connallon