After seventeen years, Seattle, Washington indie progressive rockers Minus the Bear are calling it quits. The band has released a final EP, Fair Enough, and embarked on huge national tour aptly titled The Farewell Tour. The tour hit Philadelphia on October 27th at the Franklin Music Hall, formerly known as The Electric Factory. The beloved music hall is under new ownership and was denied the use of the iconic venue’s name. The new owners briefly used the name North Seventh, before holding a contest that made Franklin Music Hall the permanent name of the popular live music venue.
A damp chilly night did not deter a huge line of Minus the Bear fans waiting for the doors to open for the group’s final Philadelphia appearance. Beverly, Massachusetts instrumental rock band Caspian were ready to warm up the steadily growing crowd. Caspian threw down an impressive set of soaring guitar anchored by a thunderous rhythm section.
The crowd inside Franklin Music Hall had swelled to capacity when Minus the Bear hit the stage for an epic career-spanning twenty-five song set. The intensity began right away with the song “Drilling” which contained plenty of the intricate beats meticulous guitar, keyboards and Jake Snider’s signature smooth vocals. The group dug deep into their catalog early in the show with “Lemurs Man, Lemurs” from Minus the Bear’s debut EP, 2001’s This is What I Know About Being Gigantic. Two classic Minus the Bear songs “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” and “Thanks for the Killer Game of Crisco Twister” from the band’s first full-length album had the energy in The Franklin Music Hall soaring before “Diamond Lightning” brought the house to a slightly slower simmer.
Guitarist Dave Knudson revved the crowd up when a sampler was brought out on stage for him which he mercilessly pummeled and waved around as the machine screamed with sonic explosions during an energetic version of “My Time”. The slightly lighter “Summer Angel” preceded the darker and more ominous tones of “Cold Company” which escalated up the crowd up to another level.
After a few words of thanks and an announcement of the band’s final recording by Jake Snider, Minus the Bear played the title track of the Fair Enough EP. The band went back to familiar territory with a string of songs from the Menos el Oso LP and the They Make Beer Commercials Like This EP, which included “The Fix”, “Fine + 2 Points”, “I’m Totally Not Down With Rob’s Alien”, “This Ain’t a Surfin” Movie”, and “The Game Needed Me” that varied in intensity musically but recited the same enthusiastic response from the audience.
Minus the Bear next played a song from their last full-length album, “Invisible” from last year’s Voids album. The band returned to their earlier work with the slower grind of “White Mystery” before they exploded with “Spritz!!! Spritz” and “Knights”. Snider informed the crowd that this was the last song and Minus the Bear put an exclamation point on the set with a stellar version of “Let’s Play Guitar in a Five Guitar Band which resulted in a huge ovation from the crowd.
Minus the Bear returned for an intense five-song encore that began with “Hey, Wanna Throw Up? Get Me Naked” from their debut EP and “Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo” from their debut LP. The centerpiece of the encore was the dreamy “Into the Mirror” from 2010’s Omni. With the exception of a few people that just can’t help getting a jump on traffic leaving a concert, almost everyone in the venue stayed right were they were for the final two songs of the encore, “Throwin’ Shapes from Planet of Ice which just had it’s ten year anniversary, and “Pachuca Sunrise” from Menos el Oso.
The show was bittersweet, as the excellent performance marked the end of a great band. The music world minus Minus the Bear will be a little less awesome.