Published Jul 14, 2015The Appleseed Cast have survived a fair number of changes since forming in the late '90s, and their sophomore full-length from 2000, Mare Vitalis, sits at the eye of that hurricane. Before that album was recorded, the indie band had moved from Southern California to North Carolina and, finally, to Lawrence, Kansas, where they have remained active ever since, despite a rotating cast of players on each subsequent release. Mare Vitalis is also important in their history, as it witnessed their sound move from an initial, emo-indebted style towards post-rock atmospheres and dynamics, stepping out from behind their Braid and Sunny Day Real Estate influences to become a band to which others could be compared. Thus, it made perfect sense for them to plan an entire victory lap tour around this album on the 15th anniversary of its release.
Only lead singer/guitarist Christopher Crisci is still in the band from the Mare Vitalis days, now flanked by bassist Nathan Whitman, and recently added guitarist Taylor Holenbeck and drummer Nathan Wilder. They all look a fair bit younger than Crisci, but they proved more than capable of filling those roles, while Crisci's elating vocals do not sound like they're coming from a dude with a halfway-white beard. If anything, they sounded even more invigorated now than they did on the record.
They were about 20 minutes late getting on, pressed against a hard curfew, so it seemed as though they hurried through the first three songs, which they played without pause. After finally taking a minute to tune, the band hit their stride for "Mare Mortis" and never looked back. They had been a little on the loose side early on, which undermined their dynamic arrangements, but they tightened up the screws after that.
The sense of being rushed never completely dissipated, though. To his credit, Holenbeck took the time to banter with the crowd while tuning, though that devolved quickly, and was most of the interaction the band would have with the room. Altogether, founding member Crisci said more to Noah Kamis, the sound guy, than he did to the crowd, and the band mostly played with their heads down, while Crisci kept his eyes closed as he sang, so it seemed pushing through the material as quickly as possible was more important than making a moment of the occasion.
Since they were starting to cut into the Cobalt's scheduled karaoke night, the Appleseed Cast decided to skip "Storms," the lengthy closing track from Mare Vitalis. Instead, they headed straight into their encore, which consisted of "Cathedral Rings" from their most recent album, 2013's Illumination Ritual, and a cover of "I Want to Be Adored" by the Stone Roses.
They were good overall, but their 50-minute set seemed shorter than it was.