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Monday, September 22, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 67.0° F  A Few Clouds
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The Apples in Stereo play sunny pop at a crowded Madison show
Apples in stereo frontman Robert Schneider warms up the stage on Monday night at the High Noon.
Credit:Kiki Schueler

For a little while Monday night at the High Noon Saloon it looked like the Apples in Stereo might never get off the ground. Despite a lengthy break between bands, Apples frontman Robert Schneider had troubles right from the beginning. Big trouble, we couldn't hear his guitar.

After the second song, "Please," Schneider announced that he had narrowed the problem down to a faulty cord. As he scrambled to figure out which one it was, keyboardist Bill Doss (of fellow Elephant 6 band Olivia Tremor Control) improvised a song about "Faulty Wires," theorizing it could be anything, "it could be you, it could be me," before concluding, "there's only one way out, cut the wires!"

Such drastic action was unnecessary, and a look of relief came over Schneider's face as his guitar once again boomed through the speakers. The rest of the show was smooth sailing as the band zipped through 90 minutes of sunny, if occasionally same-y, pop.

The bulk of their set drew from the new release New Magnetic Wonder out just "three weeks ago tomorrow." Their first record since '02's Velocity of Sound, Wonder is full of exuberantly playful tunes. Following the trippy "Energy," it suddenly made perfect sense to me that Kyle Motor was in the audience. This is the same kind of Beatles-influenced pop local band the Motorz play.

The Apples ended their set with a joyful version of "Ruby" (from Her Wallpaper Reverie). Even though an encore almost seemed unnecessary, they returned for two more well-received songs. Having seen Schneider's uncomfortably odd, and honestly not very good, interim project Marbles, it is good to see him back on track with the Apples.

Uncomfortably odd also describes the openers, Casper & the Cookies. Leader Jason NeSmith (aka Casper Fandango) could pass for a young Paul Simon -- well, except for the fake silver eyelashes he sported. Flamboyant guitar player Jim Hicks showed off his sweet moves, while batting his own false eyelashes at the audience.

Fascinating like a car accident, they were just as happy to be there as the couple hundred eighteen-and-overs in the crowd. "If you're ever in a band and you have a chance to open for the Apples in stereo, I highly recommend you do it," NeSmith proclaimed. I'd say that's solid advice.

More discussion about the show includes praise from Ryan Matteson for Casper & the Cookies, as well as comments about the headliners' performance, available for reading here ("the Apples rocked the place out"), here ("none of their songs were duds"), and here.

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