The Apes: Record Release Show in DC


The Apes put on a solid album release show at DC's Black Cat, but through no fault of their own it wasn't what it could have been. Maybe the prohibitive price of drinks kept people from getting sloshed enough to wild out, or maybe the undanceable, unpleasantly avant-garde second act was to blame, but the crowd had all the enthusiasm of a bunch of swaying TJ Maxx mannequins.

That was a shame. There's nothing worse than a venue filled with people who applaud loudly after every song, but for whatever reason refuse to move anything but tapping toes while the band is actually playing. Whether it was embarrassment, self-consciousness, or a misplaced sense of etiquette, no one was moving.

Whatever, though. Forget the lame crowd. The fact is that the Apes owned the club. The new vocalist, Breck Brunson, stripped off a green rainslicker almost immediately and spent the rest of the night wailing like a punk rock soprano and prancing around like Michael Jackson in hobo gloves. To his left, the keyboardist, introduced as Majestic Ape, was wracked by her two-tiered keyboards as torturously as the phantom of the opera on his pipe organ. To Breck's right, the guitarist/bassist jumped wildly, gazing into the audience with the round, liquidy eyes of a baby who hasn't figured out to blink or a man who is peaking on mushrooms. Pick your analogy. Most rock drummers tend to out-fierce everyone else in the band by the end of a set, but somehow Jeff Schmid remained oddly put-together, appearing wholesome even after taking off his shirt.

Basically, the Apes are awesome live. Their show was the soundtrack to that cheesy horror comedy where a kid finds out he has a portal under his bed into monster land, and then the monsters steal his baby brother. (Can anyone help me out with this? You've all seen this one, right?) In this world, though, monster land is actually a rockin dance club where the monsters are all dressed in really tight pants and going crazy on a dance floor that lights up from below. At least, that's what it COULD have been if all the DC kids had learned how to dance before going out to the club.

Before the encore began, the keyboardist pleaded that we all mosh out 'like back in the days of DC hardcore when it wasn't a good show unless you came home with bruises.' Sadly, it didn't quite turn out that way. The guitarist leapt offstage and rode piggyback on a big guy in a snorkel coat, My friend and I experimentally pushed each other around, bumped into a few people and met little resistance, and the show ended. We weren't worthy, but the Apes kept up their side of the bargain.

Check out the Apes' shoestring tour diary at

-Ben Phelps-Rohrs

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