Minus the Bear live concert MP3; review of show at the Bluebird in Bloomington, Indiana April 15, 2008

Minus the Bear live effects pedals<<UPDATE :: 4/17/08 :: I've just uploaded a slightly more refined version of the MP3 I put up yesterday. I added some compression to help the overall volume levels and adjusted the EQ so it doesn't sound so muffled. Hopefully it's more listenable.>>

Seattle band Minus the Bear played a concert on their Spring 2008 tour at the Bluebird in Bloomington, Indiana last night. They put on a solid show, which you can listen to above or download (sound quality is so-so. Listenable, though.) They started their set with one of my favorite tracks, "Knights", and played a lot of songs off their latest (and in my opinion, greatest) album, Planet of Ice. If you haven't heard of Minus the Bear, this is definitely the album to start with. And if you have a set list from last night's show, let us know!

I've only been listening to Minus the Bear for the past year or so and don't know much about the band, but with their collared dress shirts, they fit in with the IU college crowd quite well and looked like they could be teaching assistants for an IU business school stats class. Musicianship and vocals sounded great, though I haven't listened to the recording yet (and sorry for not naming the MtB guys - go to Wikipedia or leave a comment below if you want to name them). The drummer kept a terrific pace most of the night with a bin full of spare sticks to replenish those that accidentally flew loose during rapid-fire snare hits, and the lead guitarist had some kind of motion-sensor effects pedal(s) (Korg Kaoss pad, perhaps? I couldn't see it) that mimicked Planet of Ice's strange guitar effects perfectly as he spazzed out to some of the songs, moving at times like one of the drunken, screaming sorority girls at the front of the stage. The vocalist/guitarist sounded good but a bit drowned out by everything else, and the bassist kept terrific lock-step with the drummer and keyboardist/programmer (who used a MacBook Pro in addition to other hardware.)

Openers Portugal the Man and Brooklyn's Big Sleep set a decent stage. Portugal the Man were a brilliant surprise: I'd never heard them, and though their name leaves much to be desired (sounds like a little kid's' interpretation of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ... or something), they let loose with a riff-heavy set that at many times echoed Black Sabbath, the Mars Volta, and... um... Wolfmother? (who at many times echo Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, etc. Sorry if this sounds like an insult if you're reading this, PtM guys, but it's meant to be a compliment.)

Anyway, Portugal the Man played like Led Zeppelin at their best compared to the next group, the Big Sleep, who made me want to take a big sleep. The trio for the most part sounded like a beginning band at practice, except for the drummer, who did a good job at keeping the guitarist/vocalist and keyboardist/bassist?/vocalist in line. I haven't heard any of the band's recorded stuff, but my wife said she felt like she was in high school again listening to a friend's band play a basement party. I felt like I was in high school again trying to navigate my way through the slew of teen-angst-grunge bands riding the Nirvana/Soundgarden/Seattle wave. Thanks for coming to the wonderful corn-fed state of Indiana, guys, but really, Brooklyn's probably a much cooler place to learn how to play guitar.

And thank you, Minus the Bear (please don't sue me for recording your concert and putting it online — I swear it's a simple act of spreading the good word about you to those who haven't heard!) for visiting the land of corn and Colts. And ditto to Portugal the Man: though your EP was sold out by the time my wife went to grab a copy, you've definitely earned yourselves a few new fans, so please swing back through Indiana again soon - and be sure to bring more copies of your albums.

I'm looking for photos from the show to post with this, so if you have some (or better yet, video!), let me know, and enjoy the show!