Concert review: Minus the Bear with Young the Giant and Everest at The Ritz Ybor (with pics)


Near the end of Everest’s set, a staffer from the Ritz offered to move us up into a VIP section, which I never even realized existed at the venue. The move upstairs was a welcome step away from the fans, considering my experience in Orlando last fall. Not only was the crowd’s behavior toward The Antlers incredibly disrespectful and annoying, but on two separate occasions, testosterone and alcohol-fueled fans reared fists and threatened to take a swing at me for just trying to make my way through the crowd. My evening at Club Firestone was complete when staffers actually threw me out of the show when I yelled back at the second guy for trying to hit a girl. In any case, the VIP section at the Ritz provided a fantastic, unobstructed view of the stage, and the service of our cocktail waitress and VIP concierge was excellent. It nearly made up for the $7.50 PBR’s at the downstairs bar. Nicely played, Ritz.


[image-1]Minus the Bear opened with “Drilling” off 2005’s Menos el Oso, to a huge reaction from the crowd. They immediately followed with two of my favorites, “Throwin’ Shapes,” and “Knights,” which also had everyone in the audience cheering. Unfortunately, the sound didn’t quite match the production levels of their album versions, with vocals that were entirely too loud and nearly drowned out keyboardist Alex Rose. The nearly percussive bass plucking of Cory Murchy was at a perfect level, however. [Lead singer/guitarist Jake Snider pictured left.]


Their set for the evening included only a handful of songs off their new album (reviewed here by Creative Loafing’s Scott Harrell.) “My Time” was already recognized by the crowd, who sang along as though it was an old favorite. “Summer Angel” lost a bit of interest from everyone, but they came back on a well-rehearsed “Secret Country,” and finally used the four projection screens behind them. The rest of the set included songs from nearly their entire discography, including several songs from Highly Refined Pirates and They Make Beer Commercials Like This.


When the crowd started waving their arms back and forth on “Into the Mirror” when prompted by the band, I found myself wondering why I'd even come to the show. I really wanted to give Minus the Bear a second chance live because I used to really enjoy their music, and they’ve certainly had a hand in my liking a lot of the prog-based rock that influences their style. I simply find that they're not that interesting in a live setting and lately, even their recorded material is a little boring.


Is it them, or me? Have I outgrown Minus the Bear? True, I hadn’t listened to them in a while until I gave Omni a full listen before the show. But I wasn’t the only one who wasn't impressed. Every one of the people I was at the show with had about the same reaction to the evening, and to Omni in general. It's an album that is certain to gain them more widespread popularity than they've already received, but I think it will be more of the shirtless chest-bumping variety that we saw on the way out the door. But that's alright, I suppose. Even frat boys need a band to love.


Setlist


Drilling


Throwin' Shapes


Knights


My Time


Summer Angel


When We Escape


Secret Country


Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo


Excuses


DoubleVision Quest


Fine + 2 Pts


Hold Me Down


Women We Haven't Met Yet


Pachuca Sunrise


Dayglow Vista Rd.


Encore:


The Fix


Into the Mirror


Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse

If there’s anything Minus the Bear really excels at, it’s knowing exactly what their audience wants to hear. The packed house at the Ritz Ybor was treated to an evening of crowd-pleasing favorites and some tracks from the Seattle rockers’ new album, Omni. [All photos by Mike Wilson.]

The evening opened with some California-style indie rock from Newport Beach’s Young the Giant. They are fairly young, indeed, and their experimental compositions and infectious pop hooks were well-received by the crowd. Their set was followed by another California band, Everest. [Frontman Sameer Gadhia pictured right.] Based out of Los Angeles, they've toured with Neil Young, Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Death Cab for Cutie. To me, they seemed an odd choice as an opener; their Americana, 1970s-influenced sound recalls the timeless influences of The Eagles, Crosby, Stills, & Nash or The Byrds, more than anything relating to the sound of Minus the Bear. They certainly received a much more favorable reaction than The Antlers, whose emotional heart-on-sleeve style was booed by an incredibly disrespectful audience when I saw them open for Minus the Bear at their November show in Orlando.

Everest is actually quite good, definitely pop-based and gave a performance well-coordinated with a full light show. At one point, lead vocalist Russell Pollard put down his guitar and got behind a second drumset onstage. Where two drummers work well for a band like White Rabbits, which already has a dramatic percussive sound, for Everest the extra rhythms were just mildly effective, but allowed drummer Davey Latter to get in some nice work on the tom drums. Their new LP, On Approach, was just released on April 20, and is already receiving praise similar to their debut, Ghost Notes.

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