Minus the Bear / All State Champion / Robosexuals Royal Pub, Vancouver BC - June 27, 2003

"How y'all doin' tonight?!," yelled Jake Snider. Apparently the question was rhetorical, as he added, "Fuckin' Killer." Members of Minus the Bear managed to take a night off from pitching inside jokes as song titles at their favourite watering hole in Seattle (Cha Cha's) to give Vancouver an ironically adroit performance at the Royal. Ironic because Minus the Bear's song titles seem to be punch lines to desultory jokes, as "Pantsuit… Ugghhh" and "Monkey! Knife! Fight!" have little to do with drinking and girls. Then again, without their obscure brand of humour this band would be less distinctive. Not that these highly refined pirates are anything less than air-tight. They easily confirmed their headliner status with an obvious talent and ultra-concentrated focus on technique — the drummer kept donning headphones and guitarist Dave Knudson sporadically displayed some two-handed finger acrobatics on the neck of his guitar. The Robosexuals started the night off with some interesting new wave rock eccentrics. This is a semi-fresh-faced Seattle-area band, once known as Closed Caption Radio, with no website, record label or recorded material, just two singers with guitars, a keyboardist and drummer, and a theme song ("Can you relate/can you compute/can you do it?"). Next up was All State Champion, local rockers that are long overdue for their full-length release after a self-titled 2000 EP. But they brought some new material to the table and sprayed so much heartfelt sweat on the stage during their set that it's a wonder they didn't slip on it when they were taking down their equipment. At one point someone in the audience shouted something and singer Dan Soui grumbled, "We're all about love, stupid." Needless to say, this quartet will clothesline you if you aren't on your toes, and after watching them from afar, I was so exhausted I'd switched to water and was mopping my forehead by the end of it.