Apes & Androids @ Mercury Lounge, NYC 1/19/08 (Album Release Party)
By Amrit Singh
My last Halloween deteriorated within just a few hours, a well planned bowling-and-indie-rock extravaganza turning into a drunken trail of broken promises — as my Halloweens so often do — but even now, that night’s saving grace was finally seeing the band constantly touted as the best live show in Brooklyn … live, and in Brooklyn. The legend of Apes & Androids showmanship and commitment to costumery preceded them, but on a night where even the doorman was dressed like a hairy-chested slutty nurse it was tough to judge (I’ll admit, though, that the massive, spinning papier mâché skull dangling over the crowd from the warehouse’s ceiling militated in their favor). I remembered it being much packed and much fun, and vaguely recalled hearing a computer-enabled strain of over-the-top theatrical rock, Queen and Bowie alongside — and sometimes filtered through — futuristic, sci-fi booty beats. Basically, trick-or-treat in a concert.
So fast forward months, to this past Friday night and the band’s long-awaited debut-album release party. Which was sold out, and so awesome. I didn’t dress up this time, but per usual, A&A did. Also per usual, the band adorned the stage with props (here, hanging skulls with blazing red eyes). Even discounting the crowd’s response for the massive “I know the guitarist from…” contingent (it was a party, after all), they killed. Live A&A are something like Kevin Barnes by way of Spinal Tap — overblown and under-dressed, totally beholden to being intergalactic rock stars (cue back-to-back harmonizing guitar solos, synchronized fist pumps, perfect and bombastic backing vocals, etc.).
On record — their finally arrived debut Blood Moon, which I spun pretty much nonstop the past few days — they are what I recalled from Halloween and too much more. The sectional play-by-play runs further than just Freddie Mercury and Ziggy Stardust and horror-flick rock operetta vibes (“Sweetest Secret”‘s hook is Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed & Painless” dialed down a BPM or two, the awesome “Nights Of the Week” takes half of “Message In A Bottle”‘s arpeggiated riff and spins it out into a paean to partying/new wave dance jam), a late-record suite of tunes tapping into Amnesiac-y Radiohead (see “Will I Live,” “Doyle Is Dead,” “Imaginary Friends”).
All that’s to say: good luck coming up with an easy, hyphenated genre descriptor for them.
…and move on to RCRD LBL for another. Not sure what the touring plans entail, so for now, some pics of what you’re missing.
And, more of what you’re missing.
UPDATE: Some video! Here’s a bit of “Golden Prize”…