review archive

The Apples In Stereo / Great Lakes / Home Science 93 Feet East 6th November 2002

It’s a Track and Field night and all the usual suspects are here, Kicker-blokes, a Lollie, Comet Gain geezer, Jim Rattail, er, us, for a rare sighting of Elephant 6 faves The Apples In Stereo. As we wander in, our ears are affronted by searing blasts of countryrock, the dj oblivious to the fact that people are standing about staring at each other uncomfortably, as the ridiculous volume he’s playing at is killing conversation and distorting the music. Finally, blood trickling from one ear, Bob Underexposed snaps, yelling ‘It’s too LOUD!’ during a between-records lull. A split second of shock and people mutter their agreement, the dj takes it down a few notches. It won’t be the last time there’s audience participation tonight.

Home Science don’t really do much for me, it’s all a bit brown. A stupid tall man positions himself directly in front of me. Why do stupid tall men always do that?

If a British group looked like this, it would be stupid and annoying, but Great Lakes, being Yanks, can pull off the shabby 60’s sunshine cool thang charmingly. There are stripey trousers, bobheads and Neil Young sidies a-plenty. Keyboard man Dan (?) in ‘Monterey’ tee-shirt, side-parting and moustache looks Byrdsy-hip, whereas if he was English he’d look a) like a git and b) like some kind of scary pervert weirdo.
Better yet, Great Lakes sound as good as they look. The nine band members swap instruments after each shiney pop belter, taking turns on various keyboards and guitars, the drummer emerging to take his turn in the six-stringed limelight. At one point a clarinet gets thrown in, albeit somewhat inaudibly.
bobheads & stripey trousers

The Neil Youngest bloke gets to sing. It turns out he was/is in Elf Power. Later on, smiley bloke from Dressy Bessy turns up on guitar with The Apples In Stereo. Can anyone actually get a grip on the convoluted relations of the Elephant 6 extended family? Does it matter?
There is mucho beaming and playing of thumping good sparkling beat tunes, at one point a song seemingly absent-mindedly meanders off into a joyful sliding-down-the-banisters version of ‘The Mighty Quinn’. Woo, we’re not in scummy old Brick Lane, we’re zooming down the freeway, shaking our hair as trees flash by in hypercolour. This is fab. Take me to the Great Lakes now!

The Neil Youngest bloke
The Apples in Stereo haven’t played over here for five years or something. I last saw them supporting Urusei Yatsura, but can’t remember much about it, as the whole night is eclipsed by the memory of an enraged Fergus Yatsura bounding off the stage to lamp some bloke who’d been goading him throughout. Memories…
Tonight, it takes an age for the Apples to set up and when they do finally start to play, the sound is abysmal. It’s distorting (not always a bad thing obviously, see the Mary Chain etc) and worst of all we can’t hear a damn thing that’s coming out of singer Robert’s mouth. We get some nice la la la-ing from super-powered drummer girl Hilarie, but everything else is lost in the murk. There are fuzzpop Apple-core songs in there somewhere, and it’s really frustrating watching the band jumping about whilst the audience starts to sulk.
drumming away appley
Can't hear you mate!

In between songs there are shouts for the mic to be turned up, the guitars to be turned down, anything for a decent sound. People leave, we stick with it, but it’s no fun.
Towards the end, we wander to the back of the room only to cross some weird aural division whereby the distortion lifts and the sound seems much clearer, the vocals still aren’t much cop, but there’s definitely a difference back here. Unfortunately this miraculous discovery occurs during the last song, and who wants to spend the whole gig lurking at the back anyway? I have my suspicions about the whole 93 Feet East set up, this isn’t the first time there’s been dire sound here. It’s just a shame that this is The Apples In Stereo’s single solitary UK gig and it’s given everyone the pip (boom-tish).

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