Minus the Bear
Showbox At The Market
by Judith Feenstra
Showbox at the market is absolutely my favorite venue in the city-- the familiar red glow seeping out from the side-door exits along with the smell of sweat, salt and spilled Ranier. The same smiling security dudes are standing outside all dressed in black and already done with your sh*t. A giant spacious room abandoned at all hours of the day but electrocutes back to life at night. Nostalgic spaces are good for the soul I think—just to be in a space that you know and created memories in again. That’s some soul-making garbage right there.
But without the music, Showbox would be just that—a space.
It seems that fate has arranged for the Showbox to host every band I love just a little bit more than the others—when a title that makes my heart scream shows up on the ticket list, I already know the show will be at Pike and 1st just waiting for me to show up. So, it was no surprise to me that when Minus the Bear (my 3rd favorite band of all time) returned to their home state for the VOIDS tour they would be playing at Showbox; after all, fate was on my side.
The show started like they always do for me— half-way into the second opening act. Beach Slang is a grunge-pop band from Philadelphia with an increasingly eclectic aesthetic representation on stage. The lead singer was dressed head-to-toe in a pseudo 1980’s dress tux, complete with ruffled dress shirt under velvet suit jacket— “We’re Beach Slang and we’re here to punch you right in f*ing the heart”… this guy was so rock-and-roll-saved-my-life I could die. On lead guitar was Samara from 2002 horror classic The Ring dressed in extra costume materials from Clueless; I never once saw her face during the entirety of her performance, just straight, black, terrifying demon-girl hair hanging over some, honestly I’ll admit, RIPPIN’ guitar riffs. The bassist and drummer both looked like the respective siblings of the lead singer and lead guitarist so I really don’t feel the need to explain any further on them.
Their performance was interrupted intermittently by the lead singer stopping to mention all the famous people he had been compared to in the past (characters much trendier than he was trying to hard to be, I might add) and then slowly slipping into stupid cover bits including but not limited to: that one popular song by the 90’s band Lit, the Rob Thomas and Santana one that was your first boyfriend’s ringtone for like a month, and “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies because lets be as cliché as we can here people. Beach Slang gave an unforgettable performance, but not for the reasons that they would probably hope.
The lull between acts is always exciting. The crowd starts to push closer to the stage and figures run quickly to the bar to re-beer before the stage becomes entirely inaccessible. This lull was especially exciting for me because I knew what MTB was like on stage and I was ready to get to the action. Maybe all math-rock shows are this way, but those insane guitar solos that run in 5/4 time and hit harmonics you didn’t even know existed are a singular experience. Minus the Bear is no disappointment in this arena. The VOIDS tour had this wild light-show attached to their performance that felt so organically fitting to their music I almost don’t know how they ever performed without it. The show was pretty career-inclusive; the band played hits from every record they’ve made up until now. All the classics were represented, “Pachuca Sunrise”, “My Time”, “Absinthe For The Afterparty”, and “Pony Up” were all welcomed with feverish applause. Some deep cuts came out in the encore that I was giddy to see performed live—“White Mystery” from the album Planet of Ice has always been one of my favorite MTB songs and this was the first tour that they ever performed it on! By the time “Invincible”, the final encore song and the first single off of VOIDS, ended my joy-quota was full and all my expectations were fulfilled to the brim—although I can’t say the same for Beach Slang, Minus the Bear showed up at the Showbox and punched me right-in-the-f*ing-heart.