Smile Politely

The Appleseed Cast: Refusing to sit still

As I shook the water from my hands and reached for a paper towel, I distinctly recall thinking that if all of the mundane tasks in modern America were accompanied by such sweet, sincere tones as were making their way under the lavatory door, I wouldn’t be such a disillusioned twat all the time. But I like being disillusioned, and as I made my way to the front of the stage where The Appleseed Cast were tearing through their set, I got my fix: there should be more people here.

You and Yourn had control of the room as I walked in late, Nic Dillon showing his versatility by hopping on the electric guitar, and the spouses’ harmonies soaring over everything. But the expanse of Appleseed Cast’s sound made me almost regret all the sets of ears that weren’t there to be filled with the bliss. The sound was great, the lighting was stellar; and for once, a fog machine actually seemed pretty fucking cool.

The set primarily drew from their most recent LP, 2009’s Sagarmatha, and they certainly brought the feeling of the album to the hall that night — distant, yet intimate. The guitars were huge but not deafening, the vocals were low but not lost, and the band managed to be bombastic but not spastic, delicate without being precious.

It’s refreshing to see a band survive time, lineup changes, becoming more daring and experimental rather than dissolve or denigrate itself by churning out stale pop hits (I’m looking at YOU, Jim Adkins). The Appleseed Cast has continually pushed itself to create art more challenging at each outing, while not being so demanding on the listener.

I got to speak with the band’s drummer, John for a moment before their set. He mentioned how they didn’t play much these days, but they would get excited to play certain shows with what I believe he referred to as “big bands.” To me, Appleseed Cast is a “big band.” I got Two Conversations in 2004 and have listened to it regularly since, tracing back their earlier, angsty distorted stuff, and have seen them progress in a way more dynamic than the typical dirty and fast > clean and slow. It would neither be fair nor accurate to call these guys predicable. They played a new tune that rocked me so hard that it shattered my conception of what toast should taste like. I also forgot how to crochet.

Near the end of their set, I walked out back to the deck. I listened to the drone of a cathartic instrumental as I enjoyed the cool air and glimmering lights above. I blinked bewilderingly as I saw three of the band members coming out, and instantly remembered all those loop stations I’d seen on their pedalboards. They lit their cigarettes as a guy from Chicago told them how glad he was he’d driven down, and how the show was great, especially on all that molly.

Aaron sold me some vinyl after their set, and even gave me a deal, because they’re awesome dudes like that. They said they’re excited to come back with new material, though it may take awhile what with two family men in the band. So call ’em post-rock if you want. That’s still rock and roll to me — it just takes a little time.

Related Articles