Live Review: Minus The Bear & Joan Of Arc at Gorilla in Manchester 1 June 2017

Review from Ben Forrester

For those that like their indie-rock on the more angular, emo side then this bill is sure to make your mouth slowly fill with saliva. Seattle’s twiddle pop heroes Minus The Bear are back on our shores for a full on UK/Euro tour in support of their superb new collection of power pop hits ‘VOIDS‘. Joining them on this tour is only bloody Joan Of Arc! Featuring members of Chicago’s cult emo scene, the Tim Kinsella fronted collective have been pushing the boundaries of wonky pop music for over 20 years now! So yeah, as you can imagine I am very much looking forward to this double bill of excellence tonight at Gorilla.

As Joan Of Arc have such a huge and varying back catalogue, I was very interested as to how they would present this 45 minute slot to us. Basically, they give it a little bit of everything and it’s totally chaotic in a totally great way. They play some twiddly emo stuff, they play some super noisy, drone stuff and of course we get a fair amount of the oddball alt-pop that consumes their bonkers new record ‘He’s Got The Whole This Land Is Your Land In His Hands. I’ve been dipping in and out of this record since its January release and found myself absorbed in its sonic intensity, so it’s ace to hear tracks like ‘Smooshed That Cocoon‘ and ‘This Must Be The Placenta‘ played out in pure raucous fashion tonight.

Their live set is just so engaging; You never know what Tim Kinsella is going to do next and it’s this on-your-toes attitude that is very entertaining to watch. He rocks back and forth on stage, dancing and leaping around fully immersed in his performance. Bassist Bobby Burg jumps from the front to the back of the stage with such conviction in his step, while drummer Theo Katsaounis keeps it all locked in with some super strength rhythms that drives throughout the set.

I was hoping for some weirdness from tonight and Joan Of Arc didn’t disappoint, totally proving their worth as one of America’s most original and exciting art-rock outfits.

From the moment tonight’s headliners Minus The Bear stroll on stage, the hits do not stop coming. They rip through 18 songs spanning their 15 year career, each song greeted with big grins and heartfelt sing a longs aplenty. Although their sound has altered over the years, MTB know how to pen the perfect pop hit and it’s really cool to hear their progression as they flicker between the youthfully exuberant twiddles of ‘Absinthe Party At The Fly Honey Warehouse‘ to the mature pop sparkles of ‘Last  Kiss‘.

I’ve really taken to the band’s latest record VOIDS recently and it’s been on constant rotation in the run up to the show, so I am particularly pumped that the band treat us to a big portion of the record. From the powerful pop prowess of ‘Tame Beasts‘ and ‘Invisible‘ to the albums more poignant, prettier moments like ‘Call The Cops‘ and ‘What About The Boat?‘, MTB prove that their latest material is some of their most vital.

Of course, Minus The Bear fans are a dedicated bunch and the quintet are happy to oblige in some select cuts from their near faultless back catalogue. Tracks like ‘White Mystery‘ and ‘The Game Needed Me‘ get a huge response! There’s a few younger lads in front of me going mental, granted they keep stepping on my toes but hey, with songs this banging, I don’t blame em!

Minus The Bear are a super tight live band and although I enjoy the crisp production of their records, there is something quite eurphoric about the more amped up live sound they have. You can’t help but move to it. Everyone in the room is totally in awe of how solid this band are and their humble demeanour is inspiring. This band show they’ve not slowed down since they began and judging by tonight’s triumphant set, they would not have it any other way!

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