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Story and photos by Joe HargreavesMore than just the BEAR was absent Thursday night at Milwaukee's historic Turner Hall. Lacking in the dizzying ambiance of pretentious clamor was any semblance of performer/audience relation. Is it the fault of the comic that jokes fall on deaf ears, or that of the crowd for not understanding them...or both?
The openers did a huge disservice by their inability to warm up the Hall. Themes played to a modest crowd of yawners more interested in their blue-faced cellular texting, than the unnerving resonance flooding forth from stage, and The Annuals fared only marginally better agitating with their own set of painful exacerbations.
So, when Minus the Bear finally hit the stage to bring us their Seattle brand of synthesized indie rock, missing was enthused passion, and exuberance was definitely elsewhere. Front-man guitarist/vocalist Jake Snider Ð albeit tongue-in-cheek Ð threatened the front with losing their claim by shuffling into their place the back half if they continued with their passive lethargy. Except the back half was no more lively then those being threatened. Bassist Cory Murchy tried his best by clapping his hands, pumping them skyward motioning to lift the roof, but neither attempt really seemed to take hold. You can't manufacture enthusiasm, just as a comic can't manufacture laughs.
Minus the Bear may have the soothing vocal control in Jake Snider, the crisp crops of time-keeper Erin Tate, the airy sound-scapes of keyboardist Graeme McCombe, the innovations of guitarist Dave Knudson, and the wicked bass riffs of Cory Murchy, but missing from Minus was believability. Wanting us to believe in the product they were selling, Minus left us wondering whether they believed in it themselves.
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