The vibe at the Highline Ballroom on Thursday evening was a relaxed one, atypical for deepest Meatpacking District. Show-goers sat on the floor, conversed and drank Blue Moons to pass the time before the bands started playing.
Eager, but not overly so, the mop-haired members of Two Lights opened the show with their guitar-laden brand of peppy indie. A Great Big Pile Of Leaves followed with lead singer Pete Weiland sipping tea and peppering the performance with awkwardly charming bits of narrative. “I’m sorry if I’m spitting and sweating on anyone in the front,” he said, “or in the back even.” Although his apology was unwarranted (it was pretty dry from the vantage of house left at least), A Great Big Pile Of Leaves managed to make its sound carry all the way to the back. A well-timed and unburied rhythm section served as both a backbone and driving force to the bouncy indie-pop.
And then, there at the intersection of post rock and emo was the Appleseed Cast. And I mean emo in the best sense—old-school and sonorous a la Sunny Day Real Estate, but with more layers and less hook. Crystalline spheres of light emanating from a lone disco ball illuminated the band as it took the stage. The veteran status of the Appleseed Cast was apparent as soon it began to play. An impossibly large and intricately stratified sound filled the venue, guitar building on more guitar, chords intersecting and setting the crowd afloat in the sound waves.
These intense multi-faceted instrumentals were textured by keyboard pings and washes of distortion. Nonchalantly, vocalist Chris Crisci managed to ground it all with his sometimes sparse but strategically placed vocal interjections. A crowd favorite was the twangy and flighty “Fishing The Sky” off of Appleseed Cast’s sophomore release, Mare Vitalis.