A Great Big Pile Of Leaves
The Horseshoe Tavern
April 25, 2011
Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Julie Lavelle
This week, I finally had the chance to speak with one of my rock and roll heroes. I was greeted eloquently with, "Does it smell like something died in here?"
The Appleseed Cast
The man with the poetry was Chris Crisci, lead vocalist and guitarist for the indie rock outfit The Appleseed Cast. For the better part of Monday night, his band shook the walls of the Horseshoe hard enough to make the crowd forget about the festering stench emanating from the floorboards somewhere off to stage right.
Don't worry, we'll be keeping the cheap puns to a minimum.
With that said, though, The Appleseed Cast definitely wasn't what was stinking, and you'd be hard pressed to find a time when they do. The band has built a solid reputation as dependably terrific performers, and, with three visits to the city in a little over 2 years, there have been plenty of recent opportunities for Toronto fans to verify the fact.
This time around, the band found their way here while jumping around the continent alongside the unveiling of their latest EP, Middle States. Weighing in at a frugal four tracks, the new release was featured during the show through a performance of the title track early in the evening, and again later with "End Frigate Constellation" (a song Crisci dubbed "Nate's Drum Song" as bassist Nate Whitman laid down his four-string and picked up a set of sticks).
But aside from showcasing these newest pieces, The Appleseed Cast let a lot of their older catalogue show its face on Monday. Opening the set with the instrumental epic "Ceremony", the group led us through a broad exploration of their discography and kept the large crowd entranced while walking a thin line bordering power indie and all-out post-rock (not to mention their flirtations with emo, one of music's favourite four letter words).
While songs like "Poseidon" were performed passionately enough to throw you back to being sixteen and suffering from an unrequited love, live renditions of instrumental-oriented sagas like "As The Little Things Go" were handed over as a more raw animal, and they reverberated on a level better suited for the different grace that these tracks carry.
Despite the heavy air that had all eyes watering, this set was another testament to fact that The Appleseed Cast should always be on the agenda when they blow through town. And, with their love for touring, there will likely be another chance to see them take the stage soon enough, if history repeats itself. Of course, if that's the case, our vote'll be for an outdoor venue.
A Great Big Pile Of Leaves
Still buzzing from their time performing at SXSW, Brooklyn's A Great Big Pile Of Leaves joined Appleseed Cast to kick-start the night at the Horseshoe.
On stage, the group was meek and polite, with frontman Peter Weiland showing a shy air that was in stark contrast to the whopping vocals he showed well through performances of tracks like "Alligator Bop" — an unfortunately-titled track that jumps around from fun to thunderous, and that sounded as perfectly polished on-stage as it does in it's studio recording.
Although much of the act's work is undeniably power-pop influenced and fits well into the form, bits and pieces also boast clever pacing and rolling melodies reminiscent of acts like Minus The Bear; this ability to cross forms lends to the idea that they won't struggle to keep things fresh as their careers progress.
On Monday, A Great Big Pile Of Leaves' talents were more than clear as they performed their short set, and it's easy to see that they're well on their way to headlining continental tours of their own.