OSCILLATING WILDLY: The Silver Apples are one of those obscure bands that current alt.stars are citing as a seminal influence and all the cool kids seem know about, but the rest Sound Bites of us get the pleasure of discovering only by association or accident. Usually in these instances opportunities to witness such bands live have long since passed, and we must be resigned to limited and nearly impossible-to-obtain video footage, or the exaggerated yarns spun by old-timers more than happy to educate the ignorant about the unparalleled greatness of days gone by. Usually. But not this time.

After a 26-year hiatus, Apples founder Simeon and new member Xian (Christian) Hawkins, former Mobius Strip keyboardist, returned to the studio last year to cut a new 7-inch, Fractal Flow. With the addition of a third member, Michael Lerner, the new trio is currently on a national tour--the result of their widely acclaimed performance at The Knitting Factory in New York on January 19. Formed by one of those fortuitous flights of fancy, the original Silver Apples--drummer Dan Taylor and singer/synth player Simeon--split off from The Overland Stage Electric Band in 1967 after a particularly wild performance by Simeon which resulted in all three guitarists quitting in a huff. The eclectic electric duo lasted for three years and three albums, only two of which were released. The Apples disbanded when their label, KAPP Records, went under in 1970, and the tapes for the Apples' third full-length release were long ago lost to the ages.

Experimental was the name of the game in the New York underground scene at the end of the '60s, and the Apples, with their 1968 self-titled release and 1969 release Contact, both on KAPP, earned a reputation for innovation that's since been borne out in their influence on the electronic music of the last quarter century. Simeon's homemade electronic device, dubbed 'The Simeon'--a synthesizer connected to a dozen or so oscillators, various sound filters, 86 telegraph keys, radio parts and other assorted "junk"--provided the signature distortional/improvisational aesthetic.

The re-emergence of electronica into the pop mainstream has brought many progenitors of the genre back into focus, and in fact, a Silver Apples tribute compilation, titled Electronic Evocations, is already on the shelves. Interestingly enough, the Beastie Boys' label, Grand Royal, showed interest in reissuing the Apples KAPP releases, now currently available on disc only as a '94 German double album bootleg. Apparently Whirlybird Records beat them to the punch, however, because The Silver Apples is soon to be reissued as a digitally re-mastered CD.

Recently Anders Parker, of Varnaline and Space Needle--a band often compared to the Apples--commented on their reemergence:

"It's funny, we've known about the Silver Apples for a while, but they'd been this mysterious entity. At the last Space Needle show that we did (at the Knitting Factory in January), the Silver Apples played and (the fact that they were there) was bizarre: They made these two fucked-up records and then they were gone--nobody had heard from them since. It was like they fell off the face of the earth. Then we started hearing things about them and all of the sudden we're doing a show with them. It was really cool to see them live. They're great. Just really cool."

The Silver Apples will be appearing at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 4, at the newly opened Theater Congress, 125 E. Congress St., with an absolute must-see Alison's Halo, signed to ultra-cool IPR based in Sedona, and Tucson's own Wise Folk Malcontent. Cover is $5 at the door. Call 544-2427 for more information.

FILM FATALE: Internationally celebrated filmmaker Susanne Ofteringer hosts a free screening of her newest film, NICO-ICON, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 3, at the Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Ofteringer's film is a music documentary investigating and detailing the life of pop-icon Nico, in a stunning visual collage that includes interviews with Viva, Paul Morrisey, Jackson Browne, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Nico's son Ari, as well as an extensive and comprehensive series of archival footage--attendance is required for film and music fans alike. See the City Week calendar for details; or call Elizabeth Cherry Contemporary Art at 903-0577 for more information.

LAST NOTES: Movie star? No, Dogstar. Isn't it strange there are no Dogstar cuts on the Speed 2 soundtrack? Well, perhaps not, but it would be an obvious way for the band to gain even more exposure by virtue of its film-star frontman. Dogstar, featuring Bret Domrose, Rob Marlhouse, and, of course, Keanu Reeves, rocks and rolls into the Club Congress on Friday, May 30. Yeah, all the girls will be gussied up for this show, but hang it up there, studly, because they won't be coming to see you, just Keanu. Cover is $7 in advance and $9 day of show. Call 622-8848 for more information.

By now you should be aware of Monsoon Madness, the regular Thursday performances on the Winsett Park Stage. On the bill for June 5 are 35 Summers, The Weekly's own beloved Joe Forkan and The Osgoods. As always the show is free, and runs from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Rockin' with Dokken--what more is there to say? Touring to support the recent CMC Records release, Shadowlife, all four original members break out the metal around 9 p.m. Monday, June 2, at The Outback, 296 N. Stone Ave. The doors open at 6 p.m., so you can stop in early for some dinner. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15, day of show. Call 622-4700 for more information.

Don't forget! Atomic Frog's Bon Voyage Extravaganza Concert is Saturday, May 31 at Berky's on Fourth, 424 N. Fourth Ave., with special guests Pagan Holiday. There will be give-aways, CDs for sale, loads of merriment and well-wishing! Cover is only $2 at the door, free if you're wearing an Atomic Frog T-shirt. Call 622-0376 for more information.

SOUND NIBBLE: Putting their money where their rage is, Rage Against the Machine, who've opened a series of dates for U2 on their POP Tour (including the recent show in Phoenix), is donating their net earnings from all POP performances to a number of activist organizations, among them FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico, Women Alive, and the Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Hats off! TW

--Lisa Weeks
City Week
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