Only The Good Die Young
“The present is the funeral of the past.” -John Clare
I tried to write this all out, laboring over a notebook. For some reason, the process only provided stale, canned versions of my brain waves about Bear Proof Suit. This should be easy…but it is not. The break up was not something that I saw coming. It bums me out when bands that I genuinely enjoy break up (see also: Gut Reactions), but at least they know how to not overstay their welcome.
Bear Proof Suit were an “everyman” sort of band. They provided the chin-rubbing intellectualisms right alongside moments of straight up rocking out. Being of the glasses pushing over-analyzers variety, they always provided plenty for me to sink my teeth into. The Sunn amps and matching guitars. The wall of sound, washing over the crowd. Aggression and power seeping from every pore. Every show, they brought it. I was there taking mental notes of it all, because that’s what I do. But, they never were a band that required this sort of gazing. If I had wanted to simply crack a few beers and bang my head, they provided ample opportunities to do so.
To stick with the duality concept, I always filed Bear Proof Suit under friend/foe status in my brain. I have been friends with every member of the band for ten or more years. Hell, I have lived with [Jon] Hanson [of Bear Proof Suit] for nearly half of that time! It was always great to watch friends rip out a great set. And at the same time, it came as a challenge. Having a hardcore band of my own, their consistency upped the ante. When we played shows with Bear Proof Suit, we knew that we had to put in extra effort to even have a chance. It was a great feeling, and I will definitely miss it.
My fondest memory of Bear Proof Suit comes from a show that my band, Bored Straight, played with them in Sheboygan. For me, playing Sheboygan is a special event. I’m originally from nearby (Plymouth), so it’s always a homecoming of sorts. The shows there always happen in bars that have that Wisconsin flavor that you just can’t find in Milwaukee. That night, we gave the master for our upcoming 7” to our label guy. Urban Pirate had also put out a Bear Proof Suit discography CD, so the night was a label showcase. So, overall, it was an exciting and important show for us. The details of our set are blurry. Maybe I’ve begun blocking them out; I don’t know. All I remember is that none of us could hear each other at all. It was all noise and tuneless thrashing. Out of frustration, songs got thrown from the setlist mid-set. We played about five minutes, then wandered away, tail between our legs. We cursed the horrible sounding room. Bear Proof Suit set up and immediately tore the place apart. It was like that classic hardcore story where the Bad Brains watched the Teen Idles practice. Ian MacKaye felt ashamed of his crummy equipment, and how bad he played because of it. Then the Bad Brains got on the Teen Idles’ equipment and ripped it up in the manner that they always did. On that night in Sheboygan, Bored Straight was the Teen Idles to Bear Proof Suit’s Bad Brains. They were a REAL band. They persevered. I will miss you. Goodbye, my friends.
Bear Proof Suit play their final show on Saturday, May 22nd at Ground Zero. 7:30 p.m. Also playing: We March, Razorfist, Cutter Family, Burning Sons