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APPLESEED CAST, DREAMEND

PLUSH

Tuesday, March 2

Appleseed Cast took an audience of the faithful back in time last week. They played their entire 2001 breakthrough suite, Low Level Owl: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, from start to finish, with one short break and virtually no commentary.

Fans focused intently, almost reverently, on the shifting textures and ambitious dynamics of the band's magnum opus. You know it's true devotion when a Plush audience isn't nearly as loud as the band.

The first bars of track one, Vol. 1, "The Waking of Pertelotte," were like a homecoming. When the light, opening guitar figure yielded to the familiar swell of drums and bass like a wave breaking, you could almost feel a collective "ahh" around the room. What's easy to love about this band is their fearlessness about that kind of beauty, and their sense of its place in the darkest of moods.

The ideas and arrangements that thrust them out of the pack of potential heirs to Sunny Day Real Estate seemed as fresh as ever almost 10 years later. In 2001, the wild and circling math of these songs spoke to the hopeful chaos of the evolving technological whirlwind. At Plush, their profound energy and characteristic forward propulsion continued to ply its own logic.

A Kansas flag draped over an amplifier signified the band's hometown of Lawrence. A collage of film clips, seemingly from every era, supplied visual interest and occasionally a serendipitous complement, as when, in "Steps and Numbers," the guitar came in like the sun as images of flames flooded the screen. Jenny Holzer-like textual art filled the screen behind the sound of a syncopated toy piano, communicating nonsense, but at least communicating, as in the first step of either understanding or even deeper confusion. And then there was the projected definition of "echopraxia" as the band laid down layers of parts like paint on a canvas.

Almost as much as the band, the crowd had a singular identity and culture—thoughtful, alert to nuance, many in attendance by themselves, but somehow in solidarity. I wanted to know what else was on their iPods, and what other shows they were looking forward to. It felt like I'd found my tribe.

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