Apples In Stereo at Turner Hall
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Not many bands can evoke the essence of an unseasonably pleasant spring as effectively as Apples In Stereo, so it wasn't surprising to find an average-sized but enthusiastic crowd gathered at Turner Hall on a balmy Monday.
When nearly the entire floor remained seated for Laminated Cat's tripped-out, long-playing jams, it seemed as though all hope for weather-appropriate revelry may have been lost. Fortunately, middle opener Generationals managed to get a surprising number of passive Milwaukeeans to forsake their seats and bring the ruckus. Though their brand of catchy, up-tempo, sing-along indie rock borrows liberally from the same sweet, sunny pop landscape as their tourmates, Generationals’ live energy and roll-with-the-punches vibe—a true feat when the guitarist breaks a string just a few seconds into the first song—proved to be just as infectious as their songs.
Even at first glance, the Apples had clearly evolved from their previous incarnation as simple psych-pop wonders: Their usual attire of jeans and T-shirts was replaced with sleek, shiny silver "spacesuits" for the entire band, accompanied by Back To The Future-style sunglasses for the optically impaired. The heavily modulated, vocoder-esque effect found in a handful of Apples songs has also officially entered the stage show equation, which allowed frontman Robert Schneider to ask, "Can I get a robot 'thank you?'" when mere human gratitude just wasn't enough.
A two-tambourine attack added to the undeniable bombast of "Go," and breakout hit/Pepsi commercial favorite "Energy" had everyone in sight grinning from ear to ear. After the first two songs, only a few people still clung to tables and chairs, the rest of the room having abandoned them to delight in a full-on party in the front row. The Apples' latest single, "Dance Floor," sounded surprisingly reminiscent of a disco-fied version of "Der Kommissar"—in a good way.
Initially hampered by a handful of false starts, "The Rainbow" finally managed to burst into bloom and take its rightful place as one of the finest songs to ever feature an earnest cowbell beat. For better or for worse, the one-two punch of longtime drummer-vocalist Hilary Sidney's 2006 departure and an overwhelming back catalog are likely what led to "Tidal Wave" being trotted out as the only truly old-school number of the set, having appeared on both its 1993 eponymous EP and 1995's Fun Trick Noisemaker.
At the end of the show, Schneider asked Generationals to return to the stage for a group collaboration on the Apples' powerhouse "Ruby"— introduced on 1999's Her Wallpaper Reverie EP, then rightfully included on last year's #1 Hits Explosion—that left the whole crowd buzzing and enthralled on their way back out into the warm May night.