The Appleseed Cast at Macaroni Island, 2/4/13: Review

For those lucky enough to score a ticket to last night's Appleseed Cast set at Macaroni Island, it was friendly reminder that this band is still around and quite relevant.

Despite a shaky start with some microphone issues, the Lawrence, Kansas-based quartet really clicked when they got a few songs in. Reaching back into their catalog with material from their heralded Mare Vitalis, the band's blend of ambient, post-hardcore and dream pop felt warm and welcoming. The six new songs from their forthcoming Illumination Ritual sounded like a strong return to form, especially "North Star Ordination."

Despite how the band's lineup has changed over the years - frontman Chris Crisci remains the sole original member - the impact of their sound remains how it's always been. Sometimes elegant with twirling drumbeats, while other times with fistfuls of aggressive melancholy, there were no boring moments over the course of their 90-minute set. Drummer Nathan Wilder did quite a good job replicating the intricate drumming that Josh Baruth seemingly invented for the band's style. And guitarist Taylor Holenbeck fit nicely in the parts that longtimer Aaron Pillar played in the past.

The atmosphere was quite friendly in the living room where the band played. With some basic foam padding to help with the sound, all of the instruments sounded pronounced and separate, despite the only microphone used was for Crisci's vocals.

Given that it was a Monday night, the hosting residents did the band and the crowd a favor by having the band finish before 10 o'clock. People came away satisfied knowing that this band has not lost its touch.

Personal bias: I've seen the Cast a few times before and have always enjoyed their live show. While I had lost track of the band for the last few records, I'm certainly looking forward to Illumination Ritual in April.

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