Shout Out Louds Co-Headline With Minus The Bear at Fox Theater

Danielle Bacher
The Hype: Sweden's Shout Out Louds decided to take a break after the release of their second album, Our Ill Wills, and its attendant world tour. Now, however, the five members--frontman Adam Olenius, bassist Ted Malmos, guitarist Carl Von Arbin, drummer Eric Edman and keyboardist Bebban Stenbor are back with their third full-length album entitled Work (Merge). They were joined at The Fox Theater in Pomona on Monday by Seattle math-rockers Minus The Bear, who were added to the lineup after an emergency rescheduling from Friday. Minus The Bear's original support, up-and-comers Young The Giant and Everest, joined both bands as a special bonus, making the night a mini-indie festival.

The Show: "I do remember, like a punch in the face," sang Olenius slowly, his melodic rasp reverberated through the mic in "1999," the opening track off Work. "Play that guitar, man!" implored a rocker chick in the front row. As if in response, Olenius threw down his tambourine and began chugging away on his guitar, invigorating Shout Out Louds' new wave-inspired set. SOL titillated the musically discriminating audience with the third track of Work, "Play The Game," a glorious web of jangly guitars and nifty bass lines (laid down by their stand-in bassist who took the place of Ted Malmros, whose wife just had a baby).

Keyboardist Stenborg layered synth notes atop the deep drumbeats of "Tonight I have To Leave It" from Our Ill Wills. Halfway through the song, Olenius chimed bells while jolting his body in slinky rhythmic twisting. His cheeks flushed pink, he mopped his sweaty forehead with his fingertips. The entire audience was singing the chorus; "Yes, tonight I have to," while hands and beach balls were thrown in the misty air.

Stenborg's accordion and breathy backup vocals added a whimsical twist to the song, "Too Late Too Slow." Unfortunately, her inherent timidity took over, as she meekly uttered her lines. If she had opened up, her falsetto would have blown everyone away. Overall, though, Shout Out Louds shook off the "bland" tag, and they seem ready to prove the naysayers wrong.

"Everybody give a big scream, it is Carl's birthday today!" yelled Olenius. "Get smashed!" yelled a 15-year-old fan three rows back. Carl nodded in agreement, and started to play, "The Comeback," the first track from Howl Howl Gaff Gaff and the song that first brought them to the attention of most of these fans. Five years on, it's still a glorious tune. They followed it up with winding, 7-minute-long, "Impossible," and "Walls," a stand-out from the new album. Shout Out Louds made the crowd do just that, as their set went from highlight to highlight.
                                                                                                                  Danielle Bacher
Minus The Bear capped off the evening, but it was a bit of an anticlimax after Shout Out Louds' triumphant set. The Seattle boys got mathematical, but the muffled, garbled vocals throughout their set marred the performance. Their set consisted mostly of tracks from the new album Omni, a poppier and more produced effort. Unfortunately, the hi-fi sheen was nowhere in evidence. "My Time"--the lead track on Omni--was catchy, but lost some of its sexy impact. The vocal issues continued, and the overall sound was undistinguished.

Some songs broke through the haze, however. "Pachuca Sunrise" was a revelation, a sparkling update of the classic Minus the Bear rattle and hum. The band was in fine spirits, though. They guzzled Tecates all night long, and keyboardist Alex Rose confided in the crowd that he wasn't sick of touring, yet. They seemed to rally a bit musically for their encore, and closed the evening with "Absinthe Party," which is a fitting description of the set: fun for stretches, but not something you will remember for very long.                                      

Surprisingly, opener Newport Beach natives Young The Giant's performance outshone Minus The Bear by a mile. Fans of the National might want to check out this exciting, young band. Their song, "Cough Syrup" was a stand-out of the evening. Los Angeles band, Everest, performed more like openers, with a competent but uninspired set of Neil Young-inflected guitar rock.

The Crowd: Underagers crowd-surfed during Minus The Bear's performance. Rowdy teenagers tossed water bottles left and right while smitten young girls reached out to grab their rocker idols. A 5-year-old sporting the band's T-shirt stood with his parents and asked random fans for their autograph in the hallway of the venue.

Overheard: A Shout Out Louds fan was getting into the moment with his buddy and asked, "Do you think they card here? I need some alcohol."

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