Appleseed Cast saves slow-starting show

Kansas-based rock quartet The Appleseed Cast rocked an all-ages crowd of about one hundred last Friday evening at local music venue The Masquerade.

The band is on tour promoting their latest album, Sagarmatha, which was released in February. The album is the seventh full-length release and reflects another step in the evolution of style that has led The Appleseed Cast’s fans from the flagrant, nostalgic emo-rock of early albums like The End of the Ring Wars and Mare Vitalis to the ethereal, flowing rock melodies of their latest work.

Considering that the band has experimented with such a wide swath of the rock music genre in their twelve-year history, it’s likely that a music fan will find something to appreciate about The Appleseed Cast. Whether it’s the nostalgia of their early albums or the precision of their later ones, the band has had a lot of time to cover substantial musical ground.

The Masquerade is one of Atlanta’s most interesting and storied concert venues, housed in a “turn-of-the-century mill building,” according to their website. The place is divided up into three sections: Heaven, Hell and Purgatory, with Heaven having the most floor space and being the location of the concert.

In many ways, The Masquerade was an unfortunate choice for the night’s performance. The most egregious issue was that someone had made the decision to have four opening acts. The concert was billed to start at 8 p.m., and while one or two opening acts are standard fare for most any music performance, The Appleseed Cast didn’t start playing until almost 10:45 p.m.

Perhaps it would be more forgivable if the bands that played were great, but they really weren’t. It’s understandable to want to have a full bill lined up for a night of music, especially on a Friday night, but it’s disingenuous to sell tickets to an event when the act on the ticket doesn’t start playing for almost three hours.

The first opening act, Bluemoon Awakening, was as awful as the name might suggest. In typical emo rock fashion, not only was their vocalist incapable of singing, but they had their instruments turned up too loud even for a rock concert, though calling the rock music they made either “rock” or “music” is a very generous use of the terms. Perhaps they were concerned that their mothers in the audience would have trouble hearing them.

This “band” also inexplicably had a keyboardist. It’s unclear as to what exactly his job was, considering he couldn’t be heard at all over his bandmates. One can only assume that the keyboard was actually a computer the band was using to liveblog dark poetry to Twitter in real time while their dancing bassist continued his Olympic-grade emo hair acrobatics.

Of course, it could also have been that the band just wasn’t quite emo enough. Only three of the four band members had stereotypical emo hair, so it’s possible that another transformation was required for Bluemoon Awakening to achieve emo singularity.

The other acts were progressively better, and it started to become apparent that the bands were arranged like video game bosses, in order of increasing talent.

The last act before The Appleseed Cast, an Australia-based duo called An Horse, was actually quite good. For one, you could actually understand what the vocalist was singing because they weren’t too loud. They would have been enjoyed quite thoroughly had the audience not already had to suffer through several hours of utter mediocrity.

Finally, The Appleseed Cast arrived on stage. This was a band that knew what they were doing and had honed their skill over years of practice.

The band played nearly every song on Sagarmatha and crowd favorites like “Fight Song” from Two Conversations and the classic nostalgic anthem “Forever Longing the Golden Sunsets” from Mare Vitalis. “As the Little Things Go” from their new album proved to be especially excellent when played live.

The group also shared a story about how they narrowly avoided tornado-induced catastrophe on their drive to Atlanta; had they not pulled over, they intoned, “Nashville would have been The Appleseed Cast’s last show.”

Fortunately for the audience, they made it just fine and put on a fantastic performance.