Minus The Bear | Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com

There is always magic to be found in seeing a band you love in a smaller, more intimate setting, especially if they’ve spent a few years filling larger clubs (or maybe even stadiums).  There is nothing to throw a wrench in to the experience quite like waiting around in a (seemingly) overpacked, poorly ventilated basement.  I love Minus The Bear, and I love Underground Arts, but when the two met a couple Saturdays ago, it almost got ridiculous.

Doors at 8.  Place was packed at 8:30.  O’Brother on at 9:15ish, thank god, because I was gonna leave.  They killed it, too, worth the wait more or less.  I was not familiar, a lot of crushing guitars and sudden lulls in the loud.  Thunderous and understated simultaneously, like a band that Minus The Bear would have opened for 14 years ago.  Fun guys, very animated, sound better live than on album (but please don’t read that as them sounding poor on tape, their sound just carries more weight with a packed room and sound cranked to 11).

Then, more waiting.  I suppose it’s not even close to the worst there has ever been (hasn’t Bieber made ‘em wait like 2 hours?).  In a dark, hot, sometimes smelly basement, it is an eternity.  Minus The Bear comes out, and I begin to forgive them for my sweaty forehead.  It’s not until “I’m Totally Not Down With Rob’s Alien” that the wounds really begin to heal, by the time “My Time” hits my ears, it’s cooled off slightly, and I’m feeling a bit better about the whole thing.  “Pachuca Sunrise” washes away a bit more of the anger.

So, they killed it too, and the crowd loves them, as they should.  They’ve spent an entire career molding and perfecting their sound, and it has paid off with one of the most impressive catalogues indie music has yet seen.  Alternately angular and majestically melodic, impressive in it’s complexity and devastating in it’s simplicity.  All around gorgeous.  By the time the night wraps up, I’ve forgiven them and remember that they were scheduled to play Rock N Roll Hotel the next night.  If you’ve never been there, it’s like half the size. Good luck DC.