Minus The Bear @ Starland Ballroom

SAYREVILLE, NJ—An adventure to the Starland Ballroom was something I was most certainly excited about, and seeing Minus The Bear made it all the sweeter. As soon as I heard that MTB were playing a show locally with Caspian, I knew right away that I was going. I prepared months in advance and even got the chance to interview guitarist Dave Knudson beforehand. Although I was stoked to hear some old tunes of theirs that grabbed me years ago, hearing a few tracks off of their new full-length, Infinity Overhead, was what I was looking forward to the most.

I arrived to the venue just on time, and paid the parking fee as always before entering the venue. The first band to come on was Caspian, and it was pleasing to see a good opener that I knew of beforehand. Coming all the way from Massachusetts, these gentlemen exploded on stage. Everything that was expected was fulfilled nicely. I had but only one complaint, which was that their set was too short. In any case, I was more ready than ever to hear Minus The Bear.

The guys made their way to the stage and opened the set the way I hoped they would. One of the new songs, “Steel And Blood,” was chosen as a starter. I personally love this song for its gritty, more organic sounding guitar tones. The sound coming from the stage was just as good as on the record. After the first two tracks, which were both new, they started playing some older material off of Menos El Oso. There were bits and pieces played off of every Minus The Bear record, which was nice to hear.

Each band member carried his own personality with him on stage. The most notable were the movements of Dave Knudson. This man moved back and forth across the stage in a hardcore manner, which was fitting. The keyboardist seemed to love what he was doing as he moved his head along with each beat thrown out by the drummer. While this all went down, singer Jake Snider kept his cool in both movement and in his voice, as he smoothly sung out the lyrics to each song.

Everything seemed almost perfect with the exception of where I was standing and who was around me. Maybe it just wasn’t the crowd that I was used to, but I hated the kids at this show. There were plenty of dumb, drunk kids in front of me waving their arms around, making it impossible for me to see anything. I got so fed up that I decided to move off to the side where I could see better. This allowed me the opportunity to watch a band from more of the outside, though it messed with the sound quality.

I always seem to have an issue with the sound at this venue because it really depends on where you’re standing. If you’re off to the side, the sound is uneven, whereas if you’re in the back by the exit, everything is perfect. This time it was the vocals. From where I was standing, they were just too loud until I moved to a different spot, where I could hear everything equally. Once I made the migration, I was able to enjoy more of the set.

Minus The Bear put on a fantastic show, regardless of how the mix was at various times. Their performance was good enough that everybody should make it a point to catch their set the next time they come around.