Most band breakups happen suddenly. You never know when your last chance to see a band in concert can be. Was last Tuesday part of that band’s final tour ever? Typically you don’t know. Maybe that’s why I have no problem going to see the same band over and over again. You just don’t know what show will be your last with the band. This was not the case last night. Unlike Kiss or AC/DC, I truly believed the members of Minus the Bear when they announced their farewell tour. It didn’t matter how much my nose was running or how itchy my throat was, I was not missing a final chance to see this band and was truly grateful that they were giving their fans in the Twin Cities a chance to send them off.
Opening up the Monday night show was Caspian- a band I’ve seen a couple of times now but yet continue to be absolutely captivated by. Hailing from Massachusetts, Caspian is one of those bands that seems to have stayed in the shadows although their music demands a spotlight at all times. Their unique post-rock sound is something that can make your eyes swell up with tears in one string of notes and then have you smiling from ear to ear during the next. Even without lyrics or vocals of any kind, their music makes you feel something and that is truly a special thing to experience in a live show setting.
Although there was no singer to watch stomping around the stage, the energy radiating from the musicians was electric. I watched closely as the members flawless switched between instruments, drum pads, and other electronics while the lights flew around the venue. It was definitely one of those “you had to be there” sets. They may have only played around five songs but their set seemed to whisk myself and the rest of the nearly sold out audience into a fantasy world where problems don’t exist and you can feel what you want to feel without guilt or embarrassment. It was honestly the perfect set for a night that would become rather emotional for the die hard fans of Minus the Bear.
Where do I even start with Minus the Bear? Since 2001, this Seattle group has been putting out music that truly bridges the gap between indie rock and post-rock. Like Caspian, they have a sound that is all their own. There’s no mistaking a Minus the Bear song and that’s a special thing to have in such an over-saturated music scene. All six of their full length albums seem to convey a different mood or energy which has kept this band a staple in my the daily playlist that is my life. It doesn’t matter how your day went, how badly you just want to cry in your bedroom alone or how much you want to drink and party with your friends– there’s a song for that. Having seen them live multiple times before, I feel like I kind of started to write off the energy that this group has but last night, knowing it would be my last chance to see this band, I took it all in and it was mentally exhausting.
From the first note of “Drilling” and until the final note of “Pachuca Sunrise”, I was lost in a world of comfort and nostalgia. Vocalist Jake Snider has a voice that goes down oh so smoothly but also has a sense of hurt and power behind it. Mix that with their signature guitar tapping style and almost electronic like additions to the music and I was left with a sound that I could have listened to for hours on end. It was nice to just stand there and take it all in surrounded by like-minded people. There was no pushing, no shoving, no drinks being spilled on my shoes, just people enjoying the final act of an influential band in their life play out in front of them.
Much like Caspian, there are no wild jumps to watch and no stomping across the stage. Honestly, last night’s show may have been one of the calmest I’ve been to in awhile but that made it just that much more perfect. Last night was a celebration of life in a way. You could feel the admiration in the air that went from the audience to the stage and back the other way. It was silent as the band played through their twenty song set followed up a nearly five song encore. Although the set was extensive and had a great mix of hits and b-sides, old and new, it wasn’t enough and as the final note of the final encore song was left hanging in the air, it was clear that fans just didn’t quite know what to do. People just kind of stood around like, “Well, I guess that was it.” Although there weren’t tears you could feel this odd sort of emotion swirl around as fans were dumped into the chilly October air.
It’s rare that you are given a chance to say goodbye to a band that helped you through dark times of your life. Usually it’s a surprise and you are left with loose ends that will never be tied up. Thank you Minus the Bear for giving us a chance to say goodbye and have that final moment with you.