It was a muggy Tuesday night at Fort Lauderdale’s hidden gem, Culture Room. The air was so thick that you could slice it with a knife, yet the majority of attendees still insisted on wearing pants. Seattle's Minus the Bear was making its South Florida stop with openers Into It. Over It. The crowd seemed denser than usual, even for the opening act.
The trendy Into It. Over It. walked onto the stage in skinny jeans and button-up thrift-shop shirts. Though reminiscent of a high school emo band, its set improved significantly as time passed, and toward the end, fans were nodding along, getting into the angst.
Finally, the lights dimmed and Minus the Bear emerged. Donning slightly looser button-ups and jeans, the band jammed with a laid-back style that seemed almost effortless. With only a slight pause, the band launched into "Fine + 2 Pts" followed by "Dog Park."
“And I can watch the boats come in and set their anchors/And my folks are away at the store,” crooned lead singer Jake Snider during the hilariously titled "I'm Totally Not Down With Rob's Alien." Green and blue lights complemented the heavy guitar as Snider and guitarist Dave Knudson played facing each other in the middle of the stage.
Next, the band warned us that we were going to "ruin our shoes" with “Hey! Is That a Ninja Up There?” The song is from the album They Make Beer Commercials Like This. Not sure what ninjas have to do with beer, but hey, we’ll leave it to the experts. It was time to dance.
The sensually infectious "My Time" played with the stage bathed in lights of navy blue. The crowd screamed during the brief electronic solo.
The crowd also screamed during the first three seconds of "The Fix." That's about how long it took for fans to recognize the tune. Basked in a red light, Minus the Bear launched into the more recent Infinity Overhead track "Diamond Lightning."
"Free Bird!" some fan screamed out after the energetic "Electric Rainbow." "You play Free Bird, punk," Snider jokingly shot back. After "Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!" the set concluded with my personal favorite, "Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse." Everyone, just as they had all night, sang along to nearly every word.
"Thank you so much, everybody; you guys are fucking awesome," Snider said as the band walked off the stage. However, the audience was not ready to let the indie band go and instead started with chants of "ten more songs" and "MTB."
Sure enough, MTB came back."Yeah!!" screamed bassist Cory Murchy, a wad of spit falling from his gaping mouth. Murchy, at least physically, seemed like the most energetic band member.
"This is one of my favorite Euphorian forts — Fort Lauderdale," said Snider. Keyboard player Alex Rose mentioned he saw his favorite band in Culture Room 15 years ago and was now, surreally, playing in the same packed room. "He got his education down here. Look where it fucking got him," said Snider laughingly, interrupting the serious moment.
The encore started with "Houston, We Have Uh Oh" and ended with “Knights."
The band sounded even better in person and seemed like cool, down-to-earth guys who are just doing what they love — the antithesis of some modern-day musicians who gripe about money and endorsements. After 14 years, MTB still has its humility intact, and band members even allowed fans to take pictures with them after the show. One thing is for certain: Minus the Bear will always be welcome in Fort Lauderdale.
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