Concert Review: For Minus the Bear, it Didn’t All Add Up

Minus The Bear.

On Thursday night, Seattle’s Minus the Bear brought the first show of its Planet of Ice Anniversary Tour to Fort Lauderdale’s Culture Room, and played to a surprisingly packed house.

Following the trend of many successful record anniversary tours in recent years, Minus the Bear is celebrating 10+ years of the record that put them on the map by playing it in full for fans all over the country. This led to a strong front half of the show, which began by running through Planet of Ice front to back, but once that portion of the set was finished, the band didn’t quite seem to know where to go.

Many hits and popular tracks outside of Planet of Ice were left off the set list, including “My Time,” “Cold Company,” and “Pachuca Sunrise,” the exclusion of which in particular seemed to disappoint many fans.

The band was quite active on stage, especially lead guitarist Dave Knudson, who utilized every square foot of stage available to him as he played most of his lead parts by tapping. Joshua Sparks was an admirable fill-in for longtime drummer Erin Tate, who departed the band in 2015, maintaining the irregular beats and time shifts that are a hallmark of the band’s sound. Minus the Bear was notably tight and well rehearsed—there was nary a missed note to be heard all night. During the livelier moments of the show, such as early standout “Knights,” the crowd matched the excitement and energy of the band, but as it got later, that enthusiasm began to dwindle.

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During a lull, after frontman Jake Snider thanked the South Florida crowd for coming out for the first show of the tour, a fan in the crowd yelled, “we missed the Heat game for you guys!” It was unclear to me whether that comment was a compliment or a complaint.

As the 20-song set neared its close, the band seemed to have lost the attention of a good portion of the crowd, many of whom chatted through the end of the show. When the band left the stage during the encore break, many attendees simply headed for the exits, content to beat some of the parking lot traffic late on a Thursday night.

Minus the Bear is a band that has largely flown under the radar since its inception back in 2001, but the size of the crowd at the Culture Room on Thursday night was a testament to what the group has accomplished in the past 15-plus years. Not many bands of this size could book an anniversary tour for a ten-year-old record, and even fewer could sell those shows out. Minus the Bear has the following and has the talent. Hopefully next time it stops in South Florida, it will bring a more well-rounded set.

SETLIST:

1) Burying Luck

2) Ice Monster

3) Knights

4) White Mystery

5) Dr. L’Ling

6) Part 2

7) Throwin’ Shapes

8) When We Escape

9) Double Vision Quest

10) Lotus

 

11) Last Kiss

12) Women We Haven’t Met Yet

13) Michio’s Death Drive

14) Hooray

15) Secret Country

16) Hold Me Down

17) Listing

18) Dayglow Vista Rd.

 

ENCORE

19) Invisible

20) Absynthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse