Minus the Bear @ Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff 24.04.13

Following the release of their excellent fifth studio album Infinity Overhead in 2012, Seattle based experimental rockers Minus the Bear made their way to a sold-out Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff to begin their longest UK headline run since 2005. Stuart Knapman headed down to see if it’s been worth the wait.

Apr 24th, 2013 at Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff / By Stuart Knapman
Minus the Bear Perhaps unusually for a big US band coming to ply their trade on these shores Minus the Bear didn’t bring any friends along for the ride, meaning that the task of warming the crowd up fell solely to Cardiff’s own Samoans. Their first hometown show in several months, the band took the opportunity to debut material from their upcoming album. Recently released single ‘Catamaran’ was a particular highlight, showcasing the bands blend of intricate melodies, chunky muscular riffs, and softer ambient sections. Samoans are a band that seem to improve on every outing and they set the stage perfectly for Minus the Bear to make their entrance.

This entrance however took a bit longer than perhaps might have been expected and, when Minus the Bear finally took to the stage, they seemed at first to just be going through the motions. While old favourites such as ‘The Fix’ were well received, everything seemed just a little flat.

In an unfortunate turn of events the band then had to contend with a broken drum skin, which lead to ten minutes of repeated apologies whilst a replacement was found.

The delay could have killed the gig off completely, sapping the band and crowd of what energy had previously been there.

Thankfully, this was not the case. The delay appeared to galvanise the band and their performance after the delay was stellar. New material from the band’s fifth album Infinity Overhead sounded great in a live setting, showcasing a heavier side to the band’s sound than on their earlier albums.

Old favourites, such as ‘Spritz!!! Spritz!!!’, cranked things up a notch and showed that the bands material still sounds as fresh and innovative as it did when it was released over ten years ago.

However, they were saving their best ‘til last. Closer ‘Pachuca Sunrise’ was nothing short of triumphant, showcasing Minus the Bear at their very best and reminding everyone in the room that while they might have been away, they’re still smarter than the average bear.