Concert Reviews

Last Night: The Apples in Stereo at the Granada Theater

Apples in Stereo
Granada Theater
November 8, 2010

Better than:
going forward in time at regular speed.

Robert Schneider is an interesting man. When not fronting the The Apples in Stereo, the guy spends his time speaking at math conferences and tinkering with mind-controlled synthesizers.

Fronting the Apples is something entirely different, though. In many ways, it's his play thing. And Schneider, backed by five touring Apples, was indeed playful last night at the Granada Theater. Hell, he was committed to it.

Before a crowd of a maybe a a couple hundred, Schneider got into full-on Apples in Stereo character, pretending that, as his band's latest album title implies, he and the band were without-a-doubt Travellers in Space and Time. Really: Clad in silver, futuristic space jumpsuits, Schneider addressed the crowd as if he and his band were from a place where time moves in all directions -- and not just linearly, as it does in our world. It was a bit, sure. But it was a fun bit. And it kept the mood of the Apples' performance light.

"Oh, we're going forward in time?" Schneider asked his bandmates about halfway through his band's set during an especially long pause between songs. "It felt like we were ending a song, but we're really just beginning a new one."

He looked at his band, his eyes shrouded in massive, dark sunglasses, and motioned at the audience.

"Am I correct in assuming that, in their time frame, this next song is 'Rainbow?'"

Sure enough, yes, "The Rainbow," one of the Apples' many songs about nature's many glorious things, was next on the set list. And, in bringing it up as such, Schneider was just double-checking his band's pre-determined set list for the night. But it was a clever attempt -- one even Schneider chuckled at -- for Schneider to get reality in check while still keeping the band's presentation on point before an audience it referred to as "people of the past."

Few bands can pull of such a kitschy bit, but, for the Apples and their futuristic disco dance-rock, it's a fitting ploy. Their music is shimmering, jubilant and, in many ways, dependent on technology (see the band's near incessant usage of synthesizers and vocoder) -- sounding for sure as if, as Schneider told us this week, the band was making music for the people of the future to cling on to as their own some 20 years down the road.

Last night, the Apples seemed intent on proving that aim. Songs like "Energy" and "Dance Floor" bristled with glee and light-footed charm. Others sounded larger, and more rocking, sweeping the entire room up in their grandeur.

All dressed in matching space suits, the band smiled and swayed on stage as they played their happy music, and as the diminutive and bald-headed Schneider shimmied about, oblivious to his own appearance and instead intent on proving that, in the future, people who look like him can indeed act like Michael Jackson.

It wasn't a completely delirious effort: As he cooed and sighed and whispered his falsetto into his microphone, he very much sounded the part -- even if, in many ways, those noises seemed alien to such a vessel. But, backed by a massive, glistening, bouncy, and (certainly) infectious sound, it was tough to doubt his premise.

And who would want to? If the Apples are traveling backwards in time from the future, then this much is clear: The future is bright.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I think Schneider's a fascinating person, and I've always been swept up in the Apples' futuristic disco-pop, but I'd never seen the band perform live before. I guess I should have expected so much of the show coming in character, but that caught me by pleasant surprise. This is just a very endearing band, with a very endearing bit, and an even more endearing sound.

Random Note: The Apples' locally based drummer, John Dufilho got a nice little shoutout, as Schneider dedicated the band's final song of its main set to him.

By The Way:
Maybe you saw a stray spotlight coming from the Granada's balcony during the band's final songs? That was being manned by one Tim DeLaughter, who, unsurprisingly, was caught up in the Apples' exuberance just like the rest of us.

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Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman

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