Man Bear seems to be taking orders from a higher power. First, bring back the loud. Second, focus on the short pop song. Third, don’t work too hard at it.
This is what we got from Man Bear’s set Saturday at The Riot Room. The local power trio took us back to the early ’90s, when punk wasn’t shiny and clean but after it had been fully Americanized. Theirs is a style that retains its pop sensibility beneath waves of distortion. The number of bands to which Man Bear can be favorably compared might go on forever. It would be silly to even try to count them all, so I’ll just list the first 10 or so that come to mind:
Superchunk, The Replacements, The Lemonheads, Buffalo Tom, Archers of Loaf, The Meices, Seaweed, Soul Asylum, Goo Goo Dolls, Armchair Martian, Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Husker Du . . . and on and on.
Man Bear’s set included slacked-out versions from its album
Talking Drunk at 2 a.m. This is where the “not working too hard at it” part comes in. The band sounded big, it sounded loud, but it kind of sounded like Man Bear didn’t care too much about perfection, which is exactly how this sort of music is meant to be heard. Through the fuzz and mistakes the quality of the songwriting still managed to bubble to the surface, and that’s the great thing about bands like this. Good songs, powerful drums, loud guitars, and the rest takes care of itself. Or sometimes it falls off a cliff.
Either way, the trio went out at full volume and seemed to relish the gruesome moments as much as the times when they landed safely.
Now, if they could find a way to fund a decent setup for their bass player, they’d really be in business.
--Steven M. Garcia
Steven is guitarist and vocalist for Kansas City power pop trio
Deco Auto. He also makes a deliciously angry salsa.
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