Jake Snider and Dave Knudson, giving the audience a great musical performance. Photo: Logan Sorenson (LmSorenson.net)
I'm an avid fan of Breaking Bad. Like, “watch every new episode right when I get home Sunday,” and with the series coming to close, I have intentionally left my Sunday nights open, with one exception: Minus the Bear was coming to town. I missed them the last time they came around in November, so I said to myself, “I should forget Walter and his downward spiral for a night and go rock out for a change.” I turned off my Facebook app, my phone's Wi-Fi, networking capabilities and told my friends to not text me about the show until Monday. I wanted to enjoy myself without the fear of seeing a spoiler.
The heroes of Sunday's show were the opening bands. This is not to say that Minus the Bear weren't good, because they ruled (I'll get into that later). The New Trust and Tera Melos performed on par with the headlining band and could easily tour independent of a crowd-drawing band like Minus the Bear and do well for themselves. After both of these bands performed, I made a beeline to the merch table and purchased both of their CDs.
The New Trust are a three-person band that I can only describe as Sunny Day Real Estate, but if Jeremy Enigk sang with the vocal range of Amanda Palmer. When they broke into their first song, it initially sounded like garage rock with jangly guitars and a leading bass line. I wasn't digging on it too hard, but the sound guy did some quick adjustment (I'm assuming) and their performance went from amateur hour to a flanging, distorted wall of sound.
From there, I was sold. These guys have elements of neo-shoegaze and early emo—fans of The Appleseed Cast and American Football will really dig them. By the last half of their set, I was bro-nodding to the music, toe tapping nonchalantly to the driving bass and snare-heavy beats. It was good, man.
Tera Melos took to the stage soon after. I was outside enjoying a cigarette when they played their first song. At first, I thought they were just adjusting their instruments, but I was wrong. It was a disjointed song. Tera Melos are well entrenched in math rock—I immediately thought of Hella and El Ten Eleven and maybe a melodic Lightning Bolt when I first heard these guys. It was tight, it was fast and it was crazy. There were several moments that sounded like well placed live CD skipping. For the first 10 minutes of their set, I kept looking at the stage, in hopes of finding a keyboardist hiding in a corner, but alas, Nick Reinhart, the frontman was pumping his guitar through a series of effect pedals that gave his guitar and his mic keyboard-like properties. For how fast they were playing and for how complex their riffs were, I'm surprised Reinhart is able to sing at all. Knowing myself, I'd spend the entire time looking at the neck, focused on playing the right chords and not slicing my finger wide open.
Up next was Minus the Bear, and a great show just got a little bit better. These guys are something to experience and I've missed out on it for so many years. I've had a handful of their albums over the years and have spent hours poring over them with headphones, but nothing can prepare your senses for that overwhelming wave of sound you get from “Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!” or “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse.” Though they have been doing this for at least 12 years and I've been a fan for nine, their math rock is just as crisp, just as on point when I first heard them through my PC's speakers.
In the second part of their set, they busted out their acoustic guitars to play some songs off of Acoustics II—my favorite was “Riddles.” It sounds like a Crosby, Stills and Nash song, but with only two people singing, and it's not about politics. After three or four songs, they brought out the electrified instruments and continued to kill it. I love the Acoustics series, but I want to hear the tingle-inducing time signatures at full volume.
It was a great night for music. I got home, made a sandwich and went to bed. I totally forgot about Breaking Bad.
Check out more photos of the show by Logan Sorenson here.