What a special night it was on Thursday when the famed indie math rock group Minus the Bear played at the Masquerade in Atlanta on the final tour of their 16-year career. Performing a two-hour set that touched on each of the band’s six albums, emotions were high among the packed crowd of die-hard fans and newcomers alike. The melancholic anthem “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” was an early highlight, igniting a wave of sing-a-longs from the crowd that knew every word. Even the deepest cuts of the set list (specifically, two songs off the band’s 2004 EP They Make Beer Commercials Like This) elicited enthusiastic reactions from the audience.
While Minus the Bear’s music never really attained the same mainstream exposure as other artists out of their hometown of Seattle, the band had no problem carving their own niche into the indie ethosphere. After the breakup of his previous (and hugely influential) group Botch, guitarist Dave Knudson’s jagged and idiosyncratic playing style would be further refined and shined into a pristine gleam when he formed Minus the Bear with fellow musicians Cory Murchy, Erin Tate, and frontman Jake Snider. Through the incorporation of tapping, and with a great ear for melody, Knudson’s playing combined with synthesizer flourishes from eventual member Alex Rose gave the band’s easygoing style of indie rock a cerebral and earwormy touch, and 16 years of excellent albums and a dedicated fanbase naturally followed.
Even though the announcement of the band’s breakup earlier this year left many fans saddened, this final Minus the Bear tour has been a celebratory journey through an excellent and untarnished collection of songs that have been in the hearts of so many throughout the years. Seeing as how Minus the Bear was one of the first bands to really get me interested in music a decade ago; in a way, I wouldn’t be here typing this without them. And the beautiful thing is, that same feeling is felt through many thousands of others throughout the world that grew up to witness the remarkable legacy this band will soon leave behind. After closing their stop in Atlanta with the fan-favorite “Pachuca Sunrise,” I doubt there was a single person at the show that left unsatisfied.
Catch Minus the Bear’s final tour dates here.
Photos by Elyssa Velez for Bullet Music