A Band Moving Forward

May 20th, 2010

Apollo Sunshine – Mercury Lounge – May 19, 2010


After a year and a half of radio silence, Apollo Sunshine has returned to gigging with a vengeance. Last night’s show at Mercury Lounge was already their third layover in the city since March, and they clearly seem determined to get back to “Where have you been all my life?” form. The three band members went their separate ways after touring the heck out of 2008’s critically acclaimed album Shall Noise Upon, with drummer Jeremy Black heading out west, guitarist Sam Cohen trying his luck in Brooklyn and Jesse Gallagher staying up in Boston. But like a comet whipping around the sun, they are back together and in the wobbly, raw stage of prepping for their next record.

In town for some studio work, they had the midweek Merc late shift, testing out some new material, reworking some old stuff and delving hot and heavy into their genre-defying catalog. Fleshed out special-guest style to a quartet for the evening, Apollo Sunshine flipped between ecstatic psychedelic rockabilly and beautifully crafted gems like “Breeze” (with extra special guest-iness on lap steel) and “Singing to the Earth,” every fuzzy bass note and helter-skelter drumroll seemingly perfectly placed. But for each well-formed foray, the Sunshine had plenty of explosive moments.

Unpredictable and engaging, this is the band that drops the philosophical (“If the universe ends, then how does it end and if doesn’t end, well, how is that possible?”) into a raging, 10-minute blues jam and then does a groovy, exploratory key-heavy Walter Murphy on Bach to keep the audience’s hips loose. For the crowd-insisted encore, everything came together in a guitar-colliding “Lord” that peeked backward but clearly signaled that the future is where it’s at for Apollo Sunshine. —A. Stein