November 10, 2008
The cool exteriors of Seattle-based Minus the Bear’s angularly constructed guitar anthems betray just the right amount of adrenaline bubbling beneath the surface. They’re perfect for smooth highway drives through brightly lit cities or, as was the case on Sunday, the dark and windy setting that was the main stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest.
Though it was less prominent in the newer songs, guitarist Dave Knudson’s two-handed tapping technique created a visual and auditory spectacle that surely boggled the minds of experienced and inexperienced guitarists alike. While his left hand floated over rhythmic riffs on the low end of the fret board, his right punched perfectly timed phrases higher up, transforming his lead work into a mesmerizing dance.
“Houston We Have Uh Oh” and “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse,” two fan favorites from the Bear back catalogue, used this technique the most, but they also showed how much tighter and more comfortable Minus the Bear has become since their earliest days.
Two-thirds through the set, Knudson and singer/guitarist Jake Snider grabbed acoustic guitars to perform “Pachuca Sunrise” and the new “Guns and Ammo” from their recent acoustic EP. Many listeners began to file out of the crowd, and one even proclaimed, “You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m walking away.”
But as the band showed earlier in the set with songs like “When We Escape,” they are masters of emphasizing the rises and falls in their music, so it was only natural that their set would work the same way. After the brief mellow interlude, frantic closers like “Drilling” hit all the harder.