Minus the Bear, Ace of Spades, Sacramento CA. December 2018. Photo Daniel James.

“Friends, After almost two decades of writing and touring the world together, we have decided to close this chapter of our lives as Minus the Bear. These final shows are a celebration for the community of fans who gave us so much through years of dedication. We’ll be digging deep in the MTB catalog and we are honored for the opportunity to play our hearts out for you one last time.” -Alex, Cory, Dave & Jake

With that simple message on their website, the members of Minus the Bear signaled to their adoring fans that their final stop in Sacramento would be something special. Expectations were high from the sold-out crowd, but from the opening notes of “Drilling” from their 2005 release Menos El Oso it was clear that this was not a band past their prime just out to collect one last paycheck. They followed “Drilling” with “Last Kiss,” mixing the old with the new, which were equally received by fans who seemingly knew every word of every song.

Minus the Bear came out of the post-grunge Seattle scene where their live shows, musicality, and soaring vocals drew an ever-growing audience. The Ace of Spades show included original members Jake Snider (vocals/guitar), Dave Knudsen (guitar) and Cory Murchy who were joined by longtime member Alex Rose (keyboards) as well as Josh Sparks (drums) who admirably kept the beat for the band well known for their complex time signatures. MTB proved to be much more the sum of their admittedly talented parts, many songs building from solitary guitar notes into a proverbial wall of sound with Snider’s vocals soaring over the top. The band seemed to be trying to win the crowd over with every song, playing with the passionate abandon of bands just getting their first taste of success. A farewell show is always a melancholy thing, but the band wrapped up things on a high note with favorites ” Into the Mirror” and “Throwin’ Shapes” before closing with a triumphant version of “Pachuca Sunrise.” As the cheers eventually died and the crowd slowly made their way to the exits, it was clear that many felt they were witness to a little part of musical history and all the better for the experience.

Words and Photos: Daniel James.

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