Minus the Bear / O'Brother - live in Cambridge (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Minus the Bear / O'Brother

live in Cambridge (2014)

live show

Minus the Bear have brought some cool and adventurous openers on recent east coast tours. Last year had the great INVSN and solid Slow Bird, and for this 10th anniversary tour for their They Make Beer Commercials Like This EP, they tapped experimentally heavy acts that are pretty outside their wheelhouse: O'Brother and Young Widows, who are supporting respective legs (emo-y indie rockers Mansions got a third leg). Boston got O'Brother, which made sense, as they haven't played here since February and Young Widows headlined here in May (Mansions played this very venue in April).

O'Brother came out and played their typically sludgy, brooding alt-metal/rock, with most tracks coming from last year's Disillusion and one from 2011's Garden Window. The crowd was fairly warm and receptive to them, but a bit chatty. It didn't phase the band, though, who really create a powerful, spooky atmosphere live and a determined performance (with some occasional extra percussion) that really helps carry six-minute-long or so songs with grit and consistency. Bassist Anton Dang brought out his bow for "Poison!", something likely influenced by Sigur Rós frontman/guitarist Jónsi Birgisson--the band did (agreeably) cite Kveikur as their favorite collective album last year, after all. For the first time I also noticed how much "Oblivion" reminded me of Oceana's "Blue", albeit heavier. Overall, it was a nice warm-up to Minus the Bear that also provided a left-field variance on the lineup.

Set list (9:00-9:38):

Perilous Love
Path of Folly
Little symphony

Minus the Bear have seemingly gotten increasingly no-frills (decreasingly frilly?) over the years live. They came on stage about a half-hour later, Jake Snider casually offered, "Beer Commercials?" into the mic, the audience cheered, and the band went right into it. This was a fitting venue for the EP's performance, since it's smaller than they tend to play and probably a little closer in size to the type of places they played during the time this EP was released. They plowed through solid renditions of the tracks on one of their best releases without too much celebratory fare or background information, which was alright, since it just gave them more time to fill out the set with a pair of cuts from their new B-sides album, Lost Loves, and something of a highlight reel from the rest of their catalog, with staples like "Pachuca Sunrise", "Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse" and "Knights" swinging through. It seemed like business as usual, but business was still good. The sold-out crowd lapped it up, dancing through just about the whole set and predictably getting a little rowdier, frat-punk style, towards the end of the set. I've seen Minus the Bear a lot over the years, but they always manage to make something about their tours and sets in recent times a little bit special to reward returning patrons and this one was no exception.

Set list (10:05-11:15):

They Make Beer Commercials Like This:
Fine + 2 Pts
Let's Play Clowns
Dog Park
I'm Totally Not Down with Rob's Alien
Hey! Is That a Ninja Up There?
Pony Up!
My Time
The Lucky Ones
The Fix
Dr. L'Ling
Hold Me Down
Diamond Lightning
Electric Rainbow
Pachuca Sunrise
Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!
Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse
Encore (11:17-11:25):
Houston, We Have Uh-Oh