The Appleseed Cast, Listener at The Classic Grand, 10/6/16

“We are ready to move to Glasgow; we love it here” speaks Listener frontman Dan Smith.

The band has just spent the last half hour casually chatting to fans about their music and any other jovial banter they wished for.

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Now as they sit in a corner of The Classic Grand cracking jokes with RC about ambidextrous toes… it’s apparent that Listener have the ability to immediately disarm and forge an instant affinity with whomever happens to cross their path.

It’s this charm that makes their live show so vital and prosperous they seem like your friends from out of town… way out of town in fact, as they hail from Kansas in the good ole’ U S of A.

Currently on tour across the UK, supporting tonight headline act The Appleseed Cast, the band have been whipping up the crowd to a suitable frenzy.

It’s difficult to pigeonhole exactly what Listener do; it’s a mixture of; spoken word, poetry and crunching distorted beautiful noise.

The music is big and bold and the words are laced with beautiful imagery, like “birdcage ribs” and humans being “bound with veins and hopes, we are not each other’s ghosts;” the whole thing is like a tricky math problem that’s worked out quite symmetrical and perfect in the end.

Right from the opening of ‘Tornadoes’ it’s very clear that what’s happening tonight is something very special.

The band is a surprising juxtaposition of inherent nihilism and optimism at the same time.

Yes, life can be difficult, but it can also be endearing and great at the same time… it’s easy to become jaded with new music, especially so as so many modern artists seem to be creating music purely to be sound-tracked on Girls or some other cool TV show.

Meanwhile Smith’s up on stage spitting out line after line of verse “people are like washers tightening the screws” like an angry behemoth, while Kris Rochell is a fervent werewolf pounding out relentlessly rhythmic drums and Jon Terry is playing guitar so fast that his hands have transcended into cartoon form.

The energy on stage is like a three headed Cerberus gently nudging you to remind you that everything will actually turn out alright.

“We all have different stuff going on, it just comes out when we play live; it’s like a release, It wasn’t intentional to look a certain way, It’s just what we feel,” says Terry after the show.

There’s definitely a cathartic element to what Listener do.

Stand out tracks include ‘You Where a House on Fire’ and ‘Building Better Bridges’, however it is when the well-known ‘Wooden Heart’ is played that there’s a short skirmish to the front so that fans can chant the line “let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief”.

‘Falling in Love with Glaciers’ is also a high point and set closer ‘It Will All Happen The Way it Should’ is a song that was crafted for being played live; sombre yet full of hope.

The drums seem to spark you awake from the austerity of the lyrics before launching into a high wall of sound, reverb and pleasantly distorted guitars.

When asked why they chose this track to close with Smith jokes: “it’s a great song to bum everyone out about before the next band comes on”.

Before Rochell interjects, “no, it’s all about things just working out – things happening for a reason, it’s about good things coming to you and how they should.”

It’s a fitting final though for band of three friends who cut their teeth playing across the homes of Americans; ‘yeah we still do house gigs’ Smith adds.

“Back home that’s what we were brought up on, we just don’t do as many because if people have paid for a ticket they don’t want to be squashed together, they want to relax and enjoy the show” agrees Rochell.

“Plus there’s always issues with the sound and people not hearing so it’s not ideal; we would rather people had a good time.”

And what better final thought to end on? From a band committed to ensuring everyone has a good time.

Suitably stirred the crowd then gather for the final band on tonight’s extensive list – The Eager Tongue and Atlas: Empire also preluded the penultimate band.

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It seemed to take The Appleseed Cast a small age to set up; it is no small load of equipment that they carry up on stage, a small garden of effects pedals, a petite if robust synth, a trio of guitars and full changeover of drum kit.

TAC is after all veterans of noise and that’s what they deliver loud, very loud and intricate beautiful noise, so much so that I had to retreat backwards away from the speakers.

‘Cathedral Rings’, a song that starts very mellow and builds up to a frantic crescendo of wailing guitars and distortion, is the type of music that requires no thinking, it’s easy to get lost in as there is so much happening.

There isn’t much between song banter, except intermittent yelps towards the music desk for an adjustment here or there, but none is needed as ‘Here We Are (Family in the Hallways)’’s quite mellow start blisters into an atmospheric goliath.

After hurtling through the set at breakneck speed frontman Christopher Crisci seems to become aware that he’s close to cut off point and again questions the sound desk about how much time he has.

This being Glasgow of course he is answered with a chorus of “all night!” from the Friday night crowd.

After a short bargaining period with the sound desk he is told he can squeeze in two songs, but plays three anyway.

After some requests tare out from the audience, the band oblige with ‘Fishing the Sky’ an oldie, but a great one from 2000’s Mare Vitalis, a concept album about the sea, while et closer ‘Forever Longing the Golden Sunsets’ leaves the Glaswegian crowd delighted and very entertained.

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Words/Photos: Ang Canavan

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