Apples in Stereo

Like their kindred spirits the Flaming Lips, Apples in Stereo began life as low-budget experimenters with wide-screen ambitions. And while they've taken a decidedly more meandering path toward realizing those outsized goals, the Denver-bred combo blew into Gotham last week with a heretofore-untapped assurance underlying their usual devil-may-care giddiness.

With:
Band: Robert Schneider, Bill Doss, Eric Allen, John Hill, John Dufilho, John Ferguson. Casper and the Cookies also performed. Reviewed Feb. 15, 2007.

Like their kindred spirits the Flaming Lips, Apples in Stereo began life as low-budget experimenters with wide-screen ambitions. And while they’ve taken a decidedly more meandering path toward realizing those outsized goals, the Denver-bred combo blew into Gotham last week with a heretofore-untapped assurance underlying their usual devil-may-care giddiness.

In keeping with the tenor of their newly released Yep Roc album “New Magnetic Wonder” — about a third of which found its way into the 75-minute set — the band pared away some of its more eccentric sonic ephemera but left its psychedelic core untouched and brightly glowing. That was most evident in an early-set troika of “Rainbow,” “Please” and “Energy,” on which frontman Robert Schneider belied his grumpy appearance with a blissful, lighter-than-air delivery.

On occasion — notably, the winsome “Same Old Drag” — the emphasis on the ethereal imparted an air of slightness, a notion that the charm the songs may have had in a cozy sitting room had evaporated by the time they reached the stage. Fortunately, Schneider and company found a way to remedy that flaw for most of the perf — through Bill Doss’ enthusiastic keyboard and percussion embellishments (the linchpin of the jumpy “What’s the Number”) and Schneider’s enveloping guitar lines.

Schneider and company haven’t shelved their freak flags entirely — the band claims to have invented a scale, dubbed “the Non-Pythagorian Music Scale,” for use on “New Magnetic Wonder.” They have, however, developed the confidence to venture into the spotlight without being cloaked in that banner — a fine bit of evolution, indeed.

Georgia’s Casper and the Cookies opened with a set that made a good case for serving dessert before the main course, thanks in large part to the wide-eyed delivery of frontman Jason NeSmith. While not related to Mike Nesmith — the capital “S” emphasizes that — the singer did a fine job of injecting a bit of Monkee-like spirit into the band’s keyboard-driven pop songs.

Apples in Stereo

Bowery Ballroom; 500 capacity; $15

Production: Presented by Bowery Presents.

Cast: Band: Robert Schneider, Bill Doss, Eric Allen, John Hill, John Dufilho, John Ferguson. Casper and the Cookies also performed. Reviewed Feb. 15, 2007.

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