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

He seemed to accept my math. Definitely check out Reggie’s website, his fro, and his Fuck Shit Stacks. And, lastly, check out these pictures.





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.