July 23, 2008

Show Worth Waiting for at Picador

By Eric Clark, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Jul. 23--IOWA CITY -- Good thing it was The Apples in Stereo playing into the wee hours Tuesday morning at The Picador.

A less effervescent band might have put the Monday night party crowd to sleep.

Hitting the stage after midnight following three opening bands (including up-and-coming Ames indie-poppers Poison Control Center), the Denver-based Apples in Stereo bounced through a 75-minute set of bright and sunny powerpop, the kind of high-energy music that could bring a smile to the face of even the most jaded music fan.

Singer and guitarist Robert Schneider, who with his male-pattern baldness and humongous black-framed glasses looks like the hipster version of George Costanza from "Seinfeld," seemed to have electricity flowing through his veins as he led the band through its set, which was heavy on songs from the group's breakthrough album, last year's "New Magnetic Wonder." Although The Apples in Stereo has yet to have a true hit song, lately the group has been getting plenty of airtime on TV commercials. You might have heard the band's "Signal in the Sky (Let's Go)" in a spot for the Samsung Instinct, or "Sun is Out" in an ad for the Dodge Journey that features a gang of twentysomethings setting up a water slide on a sloped city street.

The Apples in Stereo also gained plenty of new fans in 2006 when Schneider appeared on the "green-screen challenge" episode of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," singing a song called "Stephen Stephen" about the show's vain host.

While The Apples in Stereo didn't play "Stephen Stephen," the group did play a bunch of songs from "New Magnetic Wonder." Although the band has five other studio albums, it seems like The Apples in Stereo really hit its stride on the album, with songs that seem more catchy and confident than much of its past work.

"Can You Feel It" kicked off the show, a sugary sweet blast of power-pop goodness that finds Schneider howling "Wha oh oh oh, wha oh oh oh, turn up your stereo" on one of the song's many hooks.

Some of the other "New Magnetic Wonder" songs that sent the packed house into a tizzy were "Energy" and "Sun is Out." The Apples in Stereo closed the show with "Ruby" from 1999's "Her Wallpaper Reverie." Schneider and Co. invited members of Poison Control Center on stage to help sing the song, along with anyone from the crowd who wanted to dance.

The show ended with about 20 people on stage, all beaming smiles for what was a late, but great, show.

-- Contact the writer: (319) 3688809 or [email protected]

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