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Review: Minus the Bear at the Bluebird

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With my ears still ringing from last night's Unknown Mortal Orchestra show, I embarked to write this piece. Monday evening at the Bluebird in Bloomington, a mass quantity of indie rock occurred. Minus the Bear headlined, while two other acts got the audience primed. Three different acts performed with each one bringing a unique twist on the vast continuum of independent rock music.

Playing to a sparsely populated venue, Eighteen Individual Eyes, began their set around 9. This mostly female group (the one exception being a male drummer) hammered out a melancholy taste of heavier rock. It only seems fitting that this moody sounding band claims Seattle as their home base, as one can almost hear the city's infamous precipitation in their music. Before exiting the stage, the lead singer revealed to the crowd that her dad is an IU alum, which brought out boisterous whoops and cheers from everyone present.

Next on the agenda were the members of Rah Rah. These folks were a real treat (not only because this acronym is this writer's initials) but also because they were so entertaining to watch. This co-ed band sang catchy indie rock songs about growing up in Saskatchewan, and falling in love with frumpy girls. Although the majority of the band contributed to vocals, the leader singer was really hitting this Neil Young-sounding falsetto. Because Neil Young has always been, and always will be, one of my favorite musicians, I was extremely pleased with this discovery. A violin and accordion were two welcome members on stage, although their sound was way too soft. Engaging in instrument style musical chairs, these musicians swapped guitars for drums, and drums for keyboards interchangeably, all while making their performance look like a fiesta.

At last, Minus the Bear rolled onto stage in all their bearded glory. The venue had reached a decently full size for being a Monday night, as the guys charged into their sonically powerful set. Lead singer and guitarist Jake Snider's thick vocals paired with the group's electronic-rock melodies to ring out over the squirming crowd. When "My Time" came on, the sexual energy rose in the room by about ninety percent, because while a lot of the band's lyrics can be a bit raunchy, this one takes the cake. I can't say I'm a bit mad about it either. There's nothing like hearing a bunch of twenty-somethings scream in unison, "Turn off the lights/ And touch me in the dark." "Pachuca Sunrise" -- probably their most popular tune -- illuminated their hypnotic yet groovy sounds as the crowd rhythmically swayed to the rapid guitar riffs. For their encore they chose "Into the Mirror," another song pertaining to lustful desires. Playing well past midnight, this five-piece band left the Bluebird sweaty and smiling. I think that's they way they wanted it.

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