|Minus the Bear kick off their Lost Loves & Beer Commercials tour at Club Cafe in Pittsburgh. All photos (c) PMR.|
Only a few hours before the start of their new tour, Minus the Bear announced via Twitter that their longtime drummer, Erin Tate, wouldn't be joining them on the road. He'll be back, they say, but in the meantime his drum tech, Kiefer Matthias, will fill in. It could be seen as a bit dishonest to drop this on fans moments before the tour begins, well after most people already purchased tickets to see what was presumably the full lineup. Nevertheless, Kiefer, who looks about half the age of the rest of the band, acquitted himself well. If you aren't a longtime Minus the Bear fan who can recognize and name each of the members, you probably wouldn't have noticed a difference.
The only mention of the lineup change came after the second song, “Let's Play Clowns,” when lead singer Jake Snider, after saying how nice it was to be back in Pittsburgh, said simply, “this is Kiefer.” The rest of the set had all the energy and enthusiasm you'd want from a band's first night back playing together, but without any of the sloppiness you might expect. After more than a decade together its no surprise that the veteran band wouldn't waste any time getting back to form.
The sold-out crowd, who all paid $35 for the privilege of standing inches from one of their favorite bands, was ecstatic. The first six songs followed the track listing from the Beer Commercials EP exactly, before launching into a career-spanning set that ended with a pair from Highly Refined Pirates. I think everyone there would say it was worth the extra dough to see a band of Minus the Bear's stature in an intimate (150 person capacity) venue. I'm just glad they didn't kill the energy with an acoustic set in the middle, like they did last time they visited, with INVSN.
O'brother, from Atlanta, opened. Man those dudes are loud. I caught part of their set once before, when they opened for The Sword back in March at Mr. Smalls. Droning guitars and vocals are their hallmark. There's not much variety in the songs, but after a while the performance, which the crowd responded well to, becomes almost hypnotic.
Here are some photos from the performance:
MINUS THE BEAR
-- B. Conway