For those who like labels with their rock, Minus the Bear, originally a side project of members from three of Seattle’s most prominent indie bands, is often ghettoized as math rock, a less than glamorous subset of indie rock. The debate over what exactly constitutes math rock and if Minus qualifies is just as exciting and productive as arguing over whether or not Weezer or Jimmy Eat World should be considered emo.

Labels aside, Minus the Bear is currently touring in support of their debut LP Highly Refined Pirates. Friday night at the Majestic they proved that though many eyes may be on the Detroit, Seattle remains a breeding ground for creative and promising acts.

Opening for Michigan’s Small Brown Bike and Cursive, Minus the Bear faced a half-full house of jaded Detroit scenesters anxious for entertainment. Entertain they did with a sampling of tracks drawn mostly from Highly Refined Pirates that showcased their penchant for pop hooks, tapped guitar leads and unrecognizable time signatures. Due to time constraints, the set was decisively, but suitably, rock in nature, leaving out many of the ambient ‘math’ instrumentals that characterize Highly Refined Pirates.

Singer and guitarist Jake Snider’s vocals, delivered in a pleasantly relaxed manner on record, came to life in a raspier, more urgent incarnation live. On “Thanks for the Killer Game of Crisco Twister” guitarist David Knudson’s terse, frenetic tapped guitar leads call into the question the necessity of anything existing below the neck of his guitar. Their ode to Paris, “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” provided the sing-along moment of the evening.

As Snider crooned of park benches older than his country and the dilemma of choosing between Rodan and the Orsay, it was impossible not to be swept up in the moment. One could practically see the audience mentally plan trips to the city of lights as the song ended.

Minus the Bear filled its role Friday with dignity, hopefully wining over new fans in the process. Their infectious songs and strong stage presence add up to a great live band with a promising future.

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