Sunday, June 11, 2006

Physician's Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Bear

It's common logic in Gainesville that weekends generally begin on Thursday evenings. This past week was no different as a weekend-caliber crowd packed Common Grounds to see local favorites Apollo Quartet and Dear and Glorious Physician on the bill with Seattle's Minus the Bear.

Gainesville's own Apollo Quartet kicked things off with a heavy yet melodic sound that's often compared to that of Ian McKaye and Fugazi. All three bands, however, could be forced into the genre of convenience called emo. This, however, would be rather unfair to bands that are so different in their approach, influence, and stage presence.

Dear and Glorious Physician quickly proved that this quartet of siblings are quickly becoming one of Gainesville's most loved bands. Normally this two-brother, two-sister outfit sport all white "uniforms," but the bleach was held back a bit this evening as guitarist-vocalist Jillian Westfall actually took the bold move of sporting black. While the implications of such a statement seemed unclear, the music's feel certainly did not. The Physician was in! Lead vocalist-guitarist Chase's solid guitar work was only matched by his vocals, which wavered at times between a tortued Warren Zevon, a screaming Frank Black, or an overly-smug Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies. Sister Jillian's Kim Gordon-esque delivery coupled with the strong rhythm section of Robin and Andrew on bass and drums, respectively, provides for an indie rock tour de force. Their closer proved their fearlessness for the intense, with Chase doing his best to wrestle with with his inner Maynard James Keenan. The Westfalls have certainly made progress since their appearance at The Fest last November, and it seems as if their Gainesville residency has the potential to be a long and successful one.

The placement of a laptop computer onstage with a band's gear can potentially be cause for dismay among many indie purists, but Minus the Bear proved that electronica grooves and guitar heroics can peacefully coexist. The Seattleites were in town on a break from their nationwide tour with emo kings Thursday to give Gainesville a musical adventure. Leader Jake Snider aptly led the dance rock circus, with other key roles put forth by bassist Cory Murchy and his frilly-yet-minimalist t-shirt, which is also a good way to describe his rhythmic style. Picking up where pioneers such as The Rapture left off, The Bear (as they're lovingly known to their fans) laid down rug-cutters for Death Cab for Cutie fans -- a marriage of samples and solos not heard this side of The Postal Service. The digital beats put forth by laptop jockey Matt Bayles fought with Erin Tate's drums to create a bass-heavy, syncopated stew at times comparable to New Order on steroids.

The Bear clearly had their share of adoration as evidenced by their two-song encore which featured the crowd favorite "Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse." The song titles may seem a bit unusual, and getting a mental image of a crowd consuming hallucinogenic beverages at a building of questionable character may prove difficult. That, however, was a dilemma that The Bear was here to solve. Their sound explains it all.

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