While Jeff Mangum performed a private, surprise set of Neutral Milk Hotel songs just miles away — his first such performance in more than a decade — Minus the Bear headlined Manhattan’s spacious Terminal 5 in continuing support of Dangerbird Records’s Omni. The sold out show featured support from Twin Tigers and the ever-prolific Tim Kasher.
Twin Tigers opened the evening at 8PM, fronted by Matthew Rain and Aimee Morris. The Georgia natives performed for thirty minutes, delivering their take on traditional rock and roll blended with indie rock. The quartet’s performance was generally enjoyable, though not particularly memorable, during their seven songs.
Tim Kasher and his supporting band performed next, opening with “I’m Afraid I’m Gonna Die Here” from The Game of Monogamy. Though Kasher is the lead creative force behind numerous projects, the aforementioned 2010 record is the first to be released eponymously. This evening, Kasher would be primarily promoting that record, though the set did include a handful of covers ranging from his own works (“Empty Bed”, “Driftwood”) to David Bowie (“Soul Love”). Surrounded by drummer Dylan Ryan and multi-instrumentalists Geoff Dolce and Patrick Newbery, Kasher exhibited a strange calm not often seen when the frontman is touring with his most well-known project, Cursive.
The band’s forty-minute setlist was never full, featuring a plethora of instruments including keyboard, violin, and horns to bring Kasher’s marriage-themed stories to life. B-side “Just Don’t Get Caught” was decidedly well-done, and the peculiar polyphonic melodica on “Empty Bed” was interesting to witness live. The quartet’s performance of Cursive’s “Driftwood” from The Ugly Organ was the set’s highlight, particularly since Kasher skipped the song the last time Cursive was in town. The lyrically clever, but brutally honest and straightforward, “Bad, Bad Dreams” concluded the excellent eleven-song outing.
I’m Afraid I’m Gonna Die Here
There Must Be Something I’ve Lost
Empty Bed (The Good Life cover)
Just Don’t Get Caught
Soul Love (David Bowie cover)
A Grown Man
Driftwood: A Fairytale (Cursive cover)
Bad, Bad Dreams
“Secret Country” opened Minus the Bear‘s eighty-minute sensual performance; weaving tales of desire with vivid imagery (“there is water on the concrete, rivulets on the face / you release me from your kiss /and do a dance for me and the rain”), frontman Jake Snider delivered his trademark charm to the sold out crowd. Minus the Bear effortlessly fused their entire discography together, moving from the driving “Memphis and 53rd” to the twisted time-signatures of “Thanks for the Killer Game of Crisco Twister”. Even the airy “White Mystery” seemed perfectly placed in the setlist; with so many moving parts and intricate riffs, the order and flow of the Seattle quintet’s setlist is no accident.
Indeed, part of Minus the Band’s appeal is to draw the listener into a lush, mesmerizing world. Though the band achieves this on each of their four full-length records, capturing that enchantment live is another task entirely. Thankfully, the band magnificently recreates the complexities of their studio output, tying together both straightforward, danceable jams (“Into the Mirror”) and more sophisticated numbers (“Animal Backwards”). Rarely seen “I’m Totally Not Down With Rob’s Alien” fit right in alongside staples like “The Game Needed Me” and “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse”, the latter closing out Minus the Bear’s setlist. “Knights” brought the band back on stage, though, with “Pachuca Sunrise” — featuring an extended outro — properly concluding the evening just before 11:30PM.
Memphis and 53rd
Thanks for the Killer Game of Crisco Twister
Into the Mirror
Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!
Hold Me Down
The Game Needed Me
I’m Totally Not Down With Rob’s Alien
Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse
Their second area-headlining performance in support of Omni this year, Minus the Bear should be commended for mixing up the setlist from their summer tour, playing nine different songs from just a few months ago. Touching on all but “Excuses” and “Fooled by the Night” from their latest record across the two nights, Minus the Bear displayed respect and appreciation for their fans by keeping their live performance fresh and exciting.