Minus the Bear / Murder by Death - live in Boston (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Minus the Bear / Murder by Death

live in Boston (2015)

live show

Murder by Death actually toured with Minus the Bear over a decade ago when both supported Braid on their reunion tour. That was quite the lineup back then, and the pairing is still cool today.

I didn't get there in time for Aero Flynn, unfortunately, but Murder by Death was setting up and close to begin playing when I did. They looked crowded up there with their array of instruments set up in front of a backline. No matter, though, as they finessed their way through an urgent and fun set that managed to highlight just about all of their albums released since that Braid tour. Their energetic mix of alt-country and ramshackle indie rock was a good primer for Minus the Bear, and they had a few fans scattered about the sold-out venue that seemed to be glad they were opening (even though it seemed that Minus the Bear dominated ticket sales here at a venue that Murder by Death themselves have headlined a couple times before). "I Came Around" was a natural highlight, but especially in part to the great co-ed chorus harmonizing by three of their members.A cover of David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream" was a nice treat as well, as the band informed the audience it was their first time playing it--hell, their first time playing it at all, as it was unrehearsed. It sounded good, though, with a bit of that Bowie swagger imbued in Adam Turla's voice. It's part of the rewards from their Kickstarter they continue to fulfill, with a second volume of covers on the way (it looks good, too, with everyone from Talking Heads to the Gaslight Anthem on there). They also added some autumnal eerieness to "A Second Opinion". Definitely a solid set that packed in the songs for a 42-minute opening set.

Set list

  • Strange Eyes
  • Big Dark Love
  • I Came Around
  • The Curse of Elkhart
  • Natural Pearl
  • Moonage Daydream [David Bowie cover]
  • Solitary One
  • Brother
  • A Second Opinion
  • Spring Break 1899
  • Comin' Home

Minus the Bear love their 10-year anniversary tours, having done them for 2002's Highly Refined Pirates and 2004's They Make Beer Commercials Like This EP. It was only natural they'd embark on one for their beloved and possibly most popular album, 2005's Menos el Oso. Hell, it has to be, judging from the reaction--I've seen Minus the Bear a lot, and they definitely get weirdly aggressive responses sometimes, but this was far the most intense, with a ton of bros jumping up and down and against each other for all but a few songs (the less popular and/or slower ones).

The band was occasionally a little rough around the edges as they moved through the record, but it was still a highly enjoyable performance, with deep cuts like "Fulfill the Dream" played pretty tightly in contrast. Like the Beer Commercials tour, frontman Jake Snider didn't offer a ton of insight into the album's genesis, history, or individual songs, but it wasn't necessarily a big deal. Menos el Oso's always been an album of escape, full of tales involving vacation, travel, romance and leisure, and that sense of escape was in effect at the show.

After the album's playthrough wrapped up, there was no ceremonious transition or anything grand. A quick pause and they offered up a new song, which sounded like a sensible progression from 2012's Infinity Overhead, with a couple more recent jams before the break, including "Into the Mirror" in all its "Thriller"-dance-encouraging glory.

As the band ventured back out for a two-song encore, a standup comedian friend of theirs--who also plays in locals Black Helicopter--accompanied them to hop on the mic and explain how guitarist Dave Knudson lost a bet involving the Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl. Knudson was thus decked out in Pats garb for the duration of the encore. This two-song encore, by the way, was comprised of a pair of favorites from 2007's Planet of Ice--think this one is next up for a 10-year tour?


Set list

  • Menos el Oso:
  • The Game Needed Me
  • Memphis & 53rd
  • Drilling
  • The Fix
  • El Torrente
  • Pachuca Sunrise
  • Michio's Death Drive
  • Hooray
  • Fulfill the Dream
  • The Pig War
  • This Ain't a Surfin' Movie
  • new song
  • Lies and Eyes
  • Into the Mirror
  • Encore (11:13-11:23):
  • Ice Monster
  • Knights