Grog Shop goes back to the ’90s

Indie band Minus the Bear brings in retro tunes

Mike Suglio, Staff Reporter

On Oct. 21, Minus the Bear played a sold-out concert to a crowd of dedicated fans. However, some of the openers didn’t quite fit the bill.

Opener Young Widows recently released their new full-length album, Easy Pain, which was recorded with Kevin Ratterman of My Morning Jacket. Their last album in 2011, “In and Out of Youth and Lightness,” was expressive and dynamic with lots heavy jams.

Young Widows can be summed up with one word: bass. Lots and lots and lots of bass. The band will jam for several minutes straight with little to no vocals. The heavy rock reminded me of early 2000s American rock bands.

The three-man band did very little talking and instead just played their hearts out. Some introductions to their songs would have helped someone like me who had never heard of them or their music to become more familiarized.

As the band members rocked their heads to the bass at whiplash rates the audience did not rock with them. The packed room was clearly there for Minus the Bear and talked through the set or played on their phones. I often found my attention on the bright cell phone screens in the dark venue rather than on the stage.

The issue was simple: fans of Minus the Bear were simply not the same type of fans who would come to a Young Widows concert.

The set break was the longest set break I had experienced between bands. It was nearly an hour between the final song from the Young Widows to Minus the Bear taking the stage. For the first time in all my years of going to the Grog Shop I questioned if the headliner was actually there.

After the long, restless wait, Minus the Bear took the stage to an energetic and loud applause.

Minus the Bear formed in 2001 in Seattle, Washington. The West Coast band has had an impressive volume of work with five full-length LP’s and eight EP’s, and they also recently released their new album titled “Lost Loves.”

The band has opened and performed with a wide variety of other musicians, from Soundgarden to Jimmy Eat World to the Foo Fighters.

The mostly bearded band took the stage to a loud cheer and immediately filled the room with heavy instrumentals and classic indie rock. By the end of the first song the audience had come to life and began to rock and dance to the music.

This harmonious band emanated mesmerizing lyrics and sound, and I often found myself lost in the ’90s feeling rock, remembering my days of listening to Incubus.

Alex Rose was an excellent keyboardist, and offered exotic and electric sound. His sound engineering background rang true through the show. Minus the Bear performed songs from their new albums but still played classics such as “Pachuca Sunrise” and “My Time.”

As with any great rock band, the guitar solos were long and complex. The band sped from slow to fast rock music, which left the audience exhausted, yet always cheering for more. Cleveland is the Rock n’ Roll capital of the country and this night at Grog Shop could not have exemplified it more.