The Apes 2/29/08 Black Cat

03Mar08

I did not want to go to The Apes CD release party.   I particularly did not want to stay after I heard opening act Kid Congo Powers.  But The Apes really did blow me away.  In due time, let’s start at the beginning.

Food for Animals was the first act, and came on stage about an industry standard 30 minutes late. Right from the get go, one would notice first that they rappers were having a good time despite the modest crowd size, due most likely to the second fact, the rappers didn’t look at the audience. Interestingly, they interacted with the crowd but never looked at them. Kinda like being fucked without being kissed. They were energetic and actually pretty good. The apple computer based beats (staple of both opening acts) probably would have sounded decent if you could hear any of it. It sounded like being stuck between two H2’s at a stop light in downtown, one blasting the latest rap song with obligatory dance associated and bass too heavy to enjoy, and the other competing with some euro-trash electronica, a throwback to indie blips Bumblebeez 81 only entertaining to huge ass nerds (read: moi). In the off chance you could actually make out the beat, you could here it was well constructed and pretty technically advanced. Overall, it just sounds like they were trying to do too much, stretched beyond their means perhaps. A more modest approach could have shown their strengths instead of the “going-for-gold” technique that just embellished their weaknesses. It’s like when a fat guy goes shopping: You think that buying smaller clothes will make him look smaller since, you know, he’s wearing smaller clothes, but in actuality, it just looks like a hot dog expanding in a microwave. But they did have awesome t-shirts for super cheap.

Next on the bill was Kid Congo Powers. Ugh. He slithered on stage looking something like a John Waters impersonator with no introduction, and the P.A. music still going, and just started talking. He introduced himself which was nice, and then told us about himself, which was odd, and then talked about how he grew up a long time ago, which was teetering on boring, and then talked about where he grew up, and WOULDN’T FUCKING SHUT UP. FOR THE FIRST 10 MINUTES OF THIS GUYS SET, HE READ A PART OF HIS BOOK! The segment of the book that he read just kept referencing semi famous people from the 70’s/80’s and shit. It could have been fact or fiction, I don’t care, couldn’t keep up with it, and didn’t want to. Eventually, a bass player came out, and “Kid” as the lead singer/guitarist was affectionately self titled synched up his mac to play some “madawesomeBeats!!!!11!1!ONE.” Ugh. The first song sounded (and looked) like it was his first time fucking but you could see from his gargoyle face he was too high to enjoy it, as he concentrated on thrusting his phallic guitar into the air more than the noise that permeated from it. The obedient bassist stood by and played angry, open bass chords high on the neck for a standard “don’tfuckwithme” attitude. The second song was at least a song. This time, there were even vocals! Pretty much, this guy killed himself with a bad first impression. Maybe I’m not cool enough to “get it.” Maybe it’s a punk thing that was just way over my head. I just wanted to beat the shit out of him to see if he’d fight back.

So with this, you can imagine how psyched i was to continue watching bands. The organ/keyboardist came out first with a red skimask on, anounced herself as “Majestic Ape,” talking about how she shit her pants from the last set. If one thing could make the last set worse, it would be someone talking about how good it is…and then a girl talking about shitting her pants. Then they started playing, and my entire outlook took a 180. Every member of the band was awesome. The guitarist has bass pickups in his axe, virtually combining two instruments into one. Though it is not a completely new technique (i.e. grunge rockers Local H comes to mind), it definitely has its place in the quirky, dark band. And the player of this Frankenstein never blinked. His eyes were WIDE opened the entire set, reminiscent of a portrait who’s gaze is omnipresent. Damn, it was creepy. The drummer was the most energetic one I’ve seen since Tommy Lee, and just as powerful. He really did look like a toy ape (appropriately) with a snare fused to his chest, and the way he beat those drums made you scared for the cymbals. Also, he donated all of his sweat glands to the lead singer, which was an interesting change of pace. While we’re on the vocals, it was a great milieu of indie rock falsetto and potent, early rock and roll vocals, conscience of what many singers fail to get: knowing when not to sing is as important as knowing when to. While some bands find the inclusion of an organ as something to be constantly accentuating, there was a happy medium in using it as adding to the madness while keeping it in check. She, the organist, Majestic Ape if you will, was a bit eclipsed by the amplitude of the rest of the band. But I can assure you firsthand that this slight slip-up is corrected in the mixing of the new album, the reason for this record release party, Ghost Games. The set consisted of mostly songs from this album with minimal banter between the crowd. It was solid, songs flowed from one into the other, and I only spotted one missed cue, only because the drummer scoffed at another members late entry. There isn’t enough that can be said about this band live, though. To pick up the evening from the declining state it was headed was not only impressive, it was godly. Go see them if you get a chance. Also, go pick up a copy of their CD, Ghost Games. Very, very good stuff.

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