The Forms/Free Blood/Reggie Watts/Apes & Androids @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC 5/30/08
After Apes & Androids’ recent Hiro-ics, I recognized their live show was “going-on-legendary.” You know what? Friday night’s legend comes without qualification. There’s lots to love about these glam men, but what impresses me most about the Apes & Androids audio/visual experience is the patience and intelligence with which it’s been conceived. Either that or the 10 ft. tall white-feathered monsters with illuminated Arc Reactor heart pieces that walked through the crowd at night’s end.
What I mean is, in a way, A&A have been simmering off the radar for many bloody moons by now — at least as off the radar as a band this theatrical ever could — occasionally poking their heads out of their art spaces to test, hone, and maybe remind people of their intention. They’re ready now — as you’ve read repeatedly here over the last year, they’ve been ready for awhile. Blood Moon is out. And it is great. That their first-ever Bowery headlining show was a sell-out, or that it was “THE BEST NIGHT EVER” according to pretty much anyone who was there, wasn’t a surprise.
Obviously there’s a component of internet hype to the frenzied cheer Apes & Androids get in blogspace, but if we’re acknowledging that, we have to acknowledge what they’ve achieved, something so few new bands benefiting from accelerated internet culture ever manage: this is a band that knows exactly what it is doing. They have carefully constructed a meta-aesthetic that perfectly and improbably juggles performance art, mystique, and satire. I’ve laid into how deep the debut album Blood Moon goes a few times. So this post is just about the visual goodies — scantily clad alien ladies with tricked out wigs and multi-colored LED-infused hula hoops; raining confetti; smoking smoke machines; raised arms; painted faces; boys in dresses; glowsticks; MONSTERS — most of which came by way of the Foundling Circus Guild, all of which are yours for the jumping.
I should also say, though, that the overall lineup was pretty spectacular, too. The Forms flashed a new lineup on the night, added a sort of ethereal MBV looping patch into and out of the set, and boasted instrumental passages and grooves more in tune than ever with their mathy, ’90s-indebted indie roots.
Generally I’m in support of John Pugh, being a massive !!! fan, and we’ve been good to his Free Blood project so far, but at Bowery the audience-diving/self-grabbing/oversexed hipster two-step dance shtick was grating, cocky, and hollow. Maybe it was just a jarring transition from the set prior.
Reggie Watts, however, was the complete opposite: intelligent, endearing, deep. It’s tough to define the guy. He has roots in the music and comedy scenes, independently, and what he does now is a sort of beatboxed, deep funk performance art/social satire stand up set. He is hilarious, thought provoking, booty shaking and hypnotic. I tapped a friend on the shoulder mid-set and said:
Jamie Lidell + Rahzel + Jonesy from Police Academy + Rififi + a Cuisinart blender = Reggie Watts
APES & ANDROIDS
Abbey Braden got these shots from the balcony, giving you some more perspective on the spectacle:
Hey, Rest Of The Country: an Apes & Androids tour will happen soon. And when it does, please go.