Minus The Bear at Marquee Theatre

To be totally honest, I sorta figured the Suns playoff game and the Lost finale would upstage Minus The Bear's Sunday night concert at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe. I mean, Sunday shows are sort of dicey proposition to begin with, let alone when there's such stiff competition. Also, harsh reviews never help Indie Famous acts, and Seattle-based Bear's latest LP, Omni, just got savaged with a 3.5 by Pitchfork.

The theater wasn't, like, packed to the walls, but a surprisingly healthy crowd turned out. They certainly got what they came for -- mid-tempo prog-tinged songs about the ocean and casual sex made only slightly more creepy by the singer's undeniable resemblance to Charles Manson. (And, look, I know comparing bearded indie rockers to Charles Manson is old hat, but in this case it's totally true. Especially in the eyes.)

Opening with a slightly extended version of "Drilling," the band sounded pretty tight considering the music was paired with lyrics like these:

This is us on a western Atlantic coast:
With no place to be, just taking in the sea
Tonight with a constant buzz
Staring at the ocean crashing
On all the rocks below In this foreign home

Another song about hanging out by the ocean, "Throwin' Shapes" ("Maybe come with me to the coast/And watch the way the rain comes down/Out of the shadow she's more passionate") followed. Even without any beach-related subject matter, "Knights," kept the tone remarkably consistent.

A few electronic flourishes and a funky breadown in the middle of Omni's opener, "My Time," finally provided a modicum of variety, and though I agree with reviewers who complain about the band's awkward attempts to sex up their songs with synthesizers and cheap come-ons, after the first three songs (and opener Everest's 20-minutes too-long set) I was ready for "My Time" amd the vaguely Killersesque "Summer Angel."

Then, of course, came the soon to be standard touring band's SB 1070 lecture ("People in this country shouldn't be forced to show papers," singer Charles Manson Jake Snider said) complete with a plug for Alto Arizona.

Soon after, we were back at "the water's edge" with, "Secret Country," which is, you guessed it, a proggy mid-tempo number with a strong themes of water-facilitated escape. There were others, too -- even "Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo" has a refrence to the ocean in it.

After that, the comparatively rousing "Double Vision Quest" helped pump some energy into the room. How the crowd could possibly end up clapping along to "Women We Haven't Met Yet," a few minutes later, though, I can't comprehend. The track, from the band's first album, is the perfect combo of creepy sexuality and ocean shit that annoys non-fans like me:

Our bodies ache to swim so let's swim.
We're drunk enough to dull the cold
Take off all the clothes, let's go.

Your feet kick slow
hands slow motion
head back eyes closed.

You slip under for a second.
You touch my leg and pull on my hand.
Come on girl no one can see this,
come on girl.

The crowd went wild, though, surprising the shit out of me. Then again, I figured they'd be home watching Lost.

Critic's Notebook

Last Night: Minus The Bear at Marquee Theatre.

Better Than: Lost. I hate that show.

Random Detail: I saw a dude wearing a Coheed and Cambria shirt and I immediately thought to myself "Oh, wow, technically speaking C&C and MTB really are the same genre -- indie prog." I'd never considered that before. 

Personal Bias: I've never really liked Minus The Bear but I also don't have anything against them. Or, rather, I didn't have anything against them before the fiftieth time that creeper singer said "ocean."

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