Friday, February 24, 2006

Live Review: The Appleseed Cast

Last night I made the trip to the Gargoyle at Washington University to take in one of my personal favorites: The Appleseed Cast. This was my first time at the Gargoyle, so I wasn't exactly sure where to go. The directions on the website are unspecific, and there are no signs or anything on campus. Somehow, I managed to wander into the correct building. Then it was only a matter of following the 18 year old scenesters with emo haircuts. This just proves my theory: When you can't find the show, follow the emo kids. It's never failed me.

The opening band was a local outfit called The Feed. At first, I was a little aprehensive, as I saw they had a saxaphone waiting on stage. I was preparing myself for the worst of local band self-importance, but these guys actually kicked major ass. They play a interesting brand of piano driven pop, and the saxaphone was only used on a couple songs. It actually fit into the set very nicely, so well done gentlemen. The lead singer kept reminding everyone that it was okay to move around a little bit, and insisted that we all move closer to the stage. By the end of their set, most of the audience had taken to at least minor head bobbing, which is pretty good for an indie crowd.

The next band to play was another local group called Sparland. They were obviously quite young, and wanted desparately to sound like anyone on Victory Records. Normally, I'm a sucker for rock with synth added in, but their keyboardist seemed to be added as an afterthought. I will admit that he was quite enthusiastic, jumping around stage with a feminine style stolen directly from Johnny Whitney from the Blood Brothers. I chose not to waste any of my film on this band. And I was using a digital camera.

Finally, Appleseed took the stage. Their particular style of atmospheric reverb rock translates particularly well in the small club setting. Very few bands can create such lush soundscapes with only two guitars. Known for their epic instrumental sections, the Cast played for a good 5 minutes before singer Christ Crisci sang a word.

I knew, after reading their website, that they would be playing mostly songs from their forthcoming album. The new stuff was beautifully realized, and I can't wait to hear the recorded versions. Despite the amount of material they were unfamilliar with, the audience remained attentive, while they were the most enthusiastic when the band broke into old favorites like "Forever Longing the Golden Sunsets." I was particularly impressed with the drumming of Josh Baruth, who seemed at many moments to be in some kind of a zone, smashing cymbals in a way that helped drive the band forward.

After the band left the stage, I was amazed that the entusiastic crowd was able to get them back out for an encore. The played another old favorite "Fishing the Sky." It was, as expected, an amazing show. I look forward to the new album, and for their return in April.


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