Seattle’s Minus The Bear can be described in quite a few words, but at this point in its career, the most defining word would have to be sexy. With funky guitars and sophisticated synth sounds, the band has created its own brand of provocative enchantment. This translated perfectly with its set at New Jersey’s Starland Ballroom on Sunday night.
Openers Caspian and Cursive also stuck in line with this theme, putting on a show that seemed pretty hard to follow. Caspian’s short set of melodic instrumental tunes drew the audience in, filling the room with ambient vibes. Cursive’s set was packed with heavy energy, tearing through oldies like “Art Is Hard” and “Dorothy At Forty.” The group also treated fans to a taste of its latest record, I Am Gemini, playing songs like “The Sun And The Moon,” “Warmer, Warmer” and “Drunken Birds.” All the while, frontman Tim Kasher rocked a pornstar-esque ‘stache, which may or may not be super hot. Your call.
When Minus The Bear finally took the stage, it did so with a certain sense of suggestiveness and grace. “Steel And Blood,” from the band’s latest, Infinity Overhead, opened the show and got the flannel-clad, bearded audience swaying. The gentle back and forth turned into full-on jumping when the band launched into “Throwin’ Shapes,” and things only got crazier from there.
Guitarist Dave Knudson showed off his tremendous skills early in the set, tapping his way through “Absinthe Party At The Fly Honey Warehouse” in a way that made it look easy. You could tell how much hard work it is, though, as Knudson was easily the sweatiest member of the band, utilizing his own personal fan yet still dripping about four or five songs into the set. Either he was shredding super hard or the synchronized dance moves and the slamming on his pedal board (with his hands!) during the steamy “White Mystery” had him all hot and bothered. If you ask the two people grinding on each other behind me, they’d probably go with hot and bothered.
The coolest moment of the night came in the form of “My Time” when the band rolled out giant beach-ball-like balloons for the crowd to bounce around. The reason this was so awesome? They were filled with confetti, and as the song went on, they began to burst and shower the crowd in shiny specks.
Closing the set with heavy and seductive “Cold Company,” the band left the stage, leaving a crowd of rather enamored Jersey kids wanting more. This led to an encore that featured the nearly seven-minute epic “Dr. L’Ling,” followed by the flirtatiously depressing dance number “Lonely Gun.” When the band finally ended the night for real, it did so with an extended ending to “Pachuca Sunrise,” complete with mysterious guitar tones and alluring energy. Fans seemed pleased, and you can’t really blame them. After a set like that, at least one baby was going to be made that night.