LIVE: Minus The Bear / Aero Flynn @ The Electric Ballroom, London

By Glen Bushell

It’s hard to believe, but 10 years actually is a long time. With more anniversaries and reunions happening, a decade ago feels like it was just yesterday. Some albums from that time are just distant memories, and some feel dated. For Minus The Bear, and their 2005 album ‘Menos El Oso’, it hasn’t done either of those. Instead, it has aged like a fine wine, and provides a warm sense of nostalgia when you listen to it. After taking the album on tour in the U.S. last year, the Seattle natives have now arrived in London, playing what many consider, their defining album in full.

Opening up proceedings tonight, are indie/dance trio Aero Flynn. The draw in a reasonable crowd for a support band, and their upbeat tempo’s, and calculated use of effects pedals are enjoyable. The songs tend to blend into one another after a while, and some onstage banter falls a little flat, but that could be down to them being a bit of an unknown quantity tonight. They certainly show promise, and have the potential for bigger things.

Unsurprisingly, by the time Minus The Bear hit the stage, the Electric Ballroom is packed to the rafters. A pretty amazing feat when you consider that when Minus The Bear first toured the album on our fair isle, they played across the road at the Underworld. There was always a sense that Minus The Bear could have been a far bigger band, with bigger crowds. Their refusal to ever compromise their sound, and consistently work with smaller labels has given them an artistic credibility, and devote fan base that some bands could only dream of having.

From the moment the band launch into the disjointed pop of ‘The Game Needed Me’, it is like entering a time warp. A time warp that is filled with fond memories of hearing ‘Menos El Oso’ for the first time, and one that makes you want to shake your hips as much it makes you smile. The bands are in high spirits tonight, too. Making jokes about tonight’s “predictable” setlist, they nail every technical nuance through ‘The Fix’, and the seldom-played ‘El Torrente’. They also look like they are enjoying every minute of it, something that is key to making these types of anniversary shows seem real, rather than just a band going through the motions.

The thing what has always stood out about Minus The Bear, and what sets the apart from other bands who play similar brand of indie rock, is their accomplished playing. There are times you feel you have to pick your jaw up from the floor while watching guitarist Dave Knudson’s frantic, yet analytical two-hand tapping during ‘Pachuca Sunrise’, new drummer Kiefer Matthias is air-tight, and vocalist Jake Snider still hits every note with passion until the final moments of ‘This Ain’t A Surfin’ Movie’.

The band dip into a few areas of their extensive catalogue once they have played ‘Menos El Oso’, and also air a brand new track, which has all the makings of a classic Minus The Bear anthem. ‘My Time’ still sounds fresh next to older track ‘Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse’, and an encore of two tracks from ‘Planet Of Ice’ gets a huge response, as expected. All in all, Minus The Bear have proved they are still on top of their game, and with the respect they get – and rightfully deserve – are going to continue putting out cohesive, and timeless releases for a long time to come.