I first got into the Appleseed Cast about a decade ago. I’d just got into New End Original and Jimmy Eat World, and I was trying to find out more about this “emo” scene they were part of. That led me to Deep Elm Records, who produced the Emo Diaries albums, and whose sampler Sound Spirit Fury Fire led me to Fishing the Sky. So basically I blame Deep Elm for me becoming the overly-emotional wimpy dude that I am today.
Wednesday night’s gig at the Fleece kicks off with Cautioners, who would have fit in very nicely to the nineties/noughties Deep Elm sound, with picking high notes on the guitar and low bass. Their quintessential old (but not oldest) school emo sound weirdly means they might find a niche, with so much modern emo being about poppy hooks alone. There just might be a space for weightier, content heavy bands like them.
If Cautioners represented the emo half of the Appleseed Cast sound, then June Miller represent the other post-rock half. They’re an Italian post-rock band, with some pretty epic sounds on the go. They have some big drums the are quite stark when compared to the quiet nature of much of the rest of the band, with the bass often playing single notes and their sound peppered with ambient guitar. They have a remarkably full live sound on the night considering the Fleece has a raised stage and a high ceiling. They end with a song where the keyboard part of the intro could disturbing be part an interlude on Bowie’s Labyrinth, but which builds up nicely to the whole band clapping the rhythm together in the centre on stage for the finale.
Appleseed Cast kick off with Adriatic to Black Sea, which is slightly faster than the album version, but then also has to be even more intricate. The whole set is an exercise in technically great musicianship (they’re not ones for that much banter on stage, with some quiet parts between songs as they tune up), but without losing the soul of the music. Steps and Numbers is flawless (see the top of the blog for a great version of it). Nathan Wilder is phenomenal on the drums – he’s a whirlwind, and the focal point for much of the audience as Chris Crisci plays on stage left. Crisci breaks a string twice in the set (which is bloody unlucky by anyone’s standards), and following the second break the band break into an extended jam, which is interesting to watch as it showcases how organically their songs and sound is produced. As the set goes on the performance gets busier and busier, and the live performance gets more pronounced. Even though the string break’s robbed a bit of momentum, they finish the gig as they began – going for gold. Punk rock in spirit if not in sound.