Not even three months passed since Minus the Bear last came through Kansas, having opened for the Flaming Lips at their date in late April at Capitol Federal Park at Sandstone in Bonner Springs. A little over 80 days later, and 30 miles down the Road, the Seattle quintet returned to the Sunflower State for a set at the Granada in Lawrence. The cozier environs of the former movie theater on Massachusetts Street provided a more intimate, and fitting, setting than an amphitheater, allowing those in attendance to fully appreciate the sound the band rolled out on their new album, Omni.
Despite it being summertime in a college town, Lawrence’s concertgoers were ready for a full slate on the evening of July 13, with Mini Mansions and Everest opening the bill. Mini Mansions’ edgy throwback sound (personified by their version of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”) and Everest’s tremendous straight-ahead rock got the crowd warmed up…that is if the rather high temperature at the Granada was not doing so already.
After a decently long wait, the interstitial Led Zeppelin over the speakers wound down and Minus the Bear took the stage, greeted by a now-packed house. The band started strong, wading through a selection of tried-and-true tunes, their concentrated sound matched by the crowd’s early energy and the throng’s overhead clapping to match the beat. By the time the band got to “Knights” off of 2007’s Planet of Ice, one could even see security guards nodding with the rhythm, unable to resist bringing out the camera phones.
As the band moved on to the meat of the set, lead vocalist Jake Snider made mention of Omni and songs from that release started to flow freely. Just as “My Time” and “Summer Angel” are the tracks that begin this year’s release, Minus the Bear started Omni’s introduction on the evening with the same choices. “When We Escape” (off of Planet)came next, to be followed by “Secret County”, as the band went back forth between old selections and new, all the while the fluorescent lights buzzed on stage highlighting anachronous list of songs from this point forward.
Despite sweltering humidity and rising temperatures in the venue, the band continued apace even with the crowd fatiguing. The irresistible energy of “Pachuca Sunrise” did revive the audience members a bit, as did bassist Cory Murchy’s silent, but visibly enthusiastic, thumbs-ups to the crowd. Encore-time brought out the jolt of the snyth-heavy “Into the Mirror” to get the crowd up for a few more minutes. Topping it all off? From 2002’s Highly Refined Pirates, out came “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” with the band urging the crowd toward one last high for the evening. Surely this was Minus the Bear’s best set in Kansas this year, and probably one of the better nights of music to come through Lawrence all summer.