I'm referring, of course, to a concert by Minus The Bear, As Tall As Lions, and Twin Tigers.
The three indie-rock bands coalesced into a musical menagerie onstage Sunday night at People's Court in Des Moines, Iowa. The show certainly proved to deserve more roars of applause than growls from the crowd.
November 22nd was a cold, drizzly night in the Midwest, but the acoustics from the third floor of the Court Avenue music venue were nothing but warm. All three groups ran as scheduled, playing tight-knit sets that transitioned nicely into the next..
Minus The Bear and As Tall As Lions were well-suited to share the same bill. Both bands come from the realm of atmospheric indie-rock; reverberating guitar effects and synths coupled with solid pop hooks. The result is a lot of wistful, melancholic tunes that will still find you bobbing your head.
The members of Long Island's As Tall As Lions brought the groove with them, showing a penchant for mixing their act up onstage. There were moments when one drummer would suddenly transform into three and then a bandmate casually situated sidestage would break out a trumpet and the whole arrangement would shift.
The vocal harmonies between members were lovely - made even more so by how sparingly they were called upon. Singer/guitarist Dan Nigro's vocals were simultaneously soaring and understated; introspective and declarative. Julio Tavarez countered the deep rhythms of his bass guitar with an eerily high register vocal, which played stunningly well off those of Nigro.
On ATAL's parting song, Nigro sang into a megaphone, calling out to the crowd as if it were his last stand.
Minus The Bear took the stage quietly at first, and then took the stage loudly.
The band played a strong set of songs primarily from it's terrific 2007 album, Planet of Ice, mixing in several new songs and fan favorites. The title, Planet Of Ice, was apt for the chilly, dream-like quality of prog shown on that album.
Echoes swirled hypnotically in the rafters as guitarist Dave Knudson continued to layer pedal effects and harmonic tappings into sonic soup. Frontman Jake Snider's vocals were calm and collected with the occasional hint of pain. One of the night's most memorable moments was when the two guitarists both dropped to their knees onstage to play the effects pedals by hand.
Plips and plops of synth, like icicles melting, painted the backdrop while the drums splattered tempo changes. Bassist Cory Murchy sat on a stool all night, having injured his back on tour, but his rhythm was unshaken. Murchy's continual thumbs-up to the audience between songs seemed to offer reassurance while also gauging approval.
Minus The Bear's set kicked off with three songs from Planet Of Ice, and then gave way to the band's latest single, "Into The Mirror." In a live mix, "Into The Mirror" seemed like the perfect followup to the 2007 LP, showcasing the group's knack for experimental noodling and sleek melodies.
Minimal amounts of stage banter barely separated songs, as the band chugged straight through for more than an hour and a half. Few smiles - just a collection of songs performed to the impervious standard of a band that's played them many times over.
What I first assumed to be disconnect from the band, perhaps due to weariness from the road, I soon recanted for pensive reflection. Much like the music they perform, Minus The Bear had a bit of a trance-like quality to their live show. Occasionally that curtain would drop, and the band would reveal moments of vulnerability.
And on Sunday night, those moments were more than enough to break the ice.
For more information on these bands and where you can support them on tour, please visit:
Minus The Bear's official website
As Tall As Lions' official website