The braintrust here at Rockist all went down to the Black Cat last night to check out the TRS-certified Apples in Stereo. We've decided to do a collective post about it, so you can follow our conversation here:
GH: I'll get us started by talking about the sound system down at the Black Cat. Maybe good enough for two distorted guitars and a bass, but the keyboards were always too low and you could barely hear Robert Schneider's solos. But maybe I'm just being surly because the door staff -- I exclude the bar staff -- are some of the most unfriendly folks I've come across in DC. None of that has to do with the Apples though, who I thought were pretty good and energetic. Sometimes they seem so excited to play that sonic quality (let's call it) is sacrificed -- see "Do You Understand?" and "Can You Feel It?". However, I'll go so far as to say "Strawberryfire" will go down as one of the best psychedelic moments DC sees all year. That song just has this addictive drone -- I'd be okay with them stretching it out over ten minutes. Rob, Mr. Naut, what do you think? Favorite song? Black Cat ticket takers just unpaid interns on the Fugazi road crew?
Rob: I thoroughly enjoyed "7 Stars" and was quite pleasantly surprised to hear "Strawberryfire." What was missing from the show, however, was the early, bouncy pop songs that made me fall in love with Apples. Songs like "Try to Remember," "Tin Pan Alley," and "You Said That Last Night." Well, I guess I just wanted to hear Tone Soul songs. Hell, they could have played a couple for all I know, but with the crappy sound and my beer goggles, if it didn't punch me in the face, I didn't notice it.
Speaking of punching in the face: what's with the crowd at the show? Other than the one short kid in front who kept throwing his hands up (which I appreciate. It helped me know he was still alive) there weren't any signs of life in the audience. I almost felt bad for the Apples. During the encore things seemed to liven up, but not much. Even during "Can You Feel It?" the crowd stood still. Most of the mop head, tight jean and Chuck wearing kids stood with their arms crossed. Jesus...
G.L. Naut: I agree with both of you - the door staff at the Black Cat are assholes and the crowd last night sucked. Though to be honest with you, I've often noticed DC concert-goers as being rather apathetic. Why this is, I have no idea.
But back to the Apples. I think one of my favorite things about them is the stark difference between their albums and their live shows. Where their albums tend to be heavily produced, their songs sound very lo-fi live. Where each song on the album is carefully placed, their live setlist seems farily loose - they're open to requests and start and stop songs at their leisure. This for me is really the best combination. An album should be labored over and each detail should be perfect, but a live show should be a chance to let loose and really let the songs shine without all the trappings of the studio. Luckily for the Apples, they've got some pretty good songs.