We'll Do It Live

Apollo Sunshine/Big Light

08.04.10 | San Francisco, CA

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The soundtrack for this reopening shindig was Apollo Sunshine and Big Light, as adventurous and rawly pleasurable a pairing as one might hope to find. Each approaches rock as a fun house to explore and they pull one along with impossible to resist fervor. Though their styles differ, there’s a kindred current running underneath each that makes a sometimes well-worn genre burst with color and foot stomping energy.


On August 4th The Independent in San Francisco reopened its doors after a significant remodel. What was already the frontrunner for best medium-size club venue in the city quickly shot ahead with revamped restrooms, deep wood accents and custom chandeliers that can be synched with the music as part of the light show. There’s a real respect for music and consumers of it at The Independent that extends to the overall quality of presentation (great lights, great sound, always) and their friendly, always-on-it staff.

The soundtrack for this reopening shindig was Apollo Sunshine and Big Light, as adventurous and rawly pleasurable a pairing as one might hope to find. Each approaches rock as a fun house to explore and they pull one along with impossible to resist fervor. Though their styles differ, there’s a kindred current running underneath each that makes a sometimes well-worn genre burst with color and foot stomping energy.

Big Light continues to simultaneously sharpen their pop chops while pushing ever-so-gently outwards, tapping into some of the stadium-size, wide-angle power of folks like Muse and Radiohead. Gathering shadows in the newer compositions only brought out their best features at this gig ā€“ the increased whomp and jaw-slackening fills of Bradly Bifulco, the fascinating guitar conversation between Fred Torphy and Jeremy Korpas, the subtle but definite thrust of Steve Adams’ bass work. Signature jam vehicle Heavy was transformed into a spaceward blast ol’ Syd Barrett would have loved. As usual, faith renewed by one of the most promising young modern rock acts right now.

Apollo Sunshine is like no other band. That’s a facile shorthand but it fits them so, so, so well. They mangle and grope sound with such a weird mixture of strength, lunacy, control and wicked abandon that there’s no way even veterans like myself know where the next turn will take us. Parts of this gig had the full-bore roar of a 60s acid test, where doorways and inhibitions might blow apart if only we’d let go and join in together with the band. Other sections suggested Chuck Berry or Ike Turner muddled & befuddled by Krautrock, a happy intersection of motorik beats and be-bop-a-lula friskiness. They have some crazy good songs, too, and Today Is The Day was especially satisfying in SF, particularly when shouted at the farthest reaches of one’s range along with the very loud group onstage. We also got the chance to yelp, “Big fat cock!” for no good reason besides it being fun to be vulgar in a public setting. There is much that is exquisitely primal about Apollo Sunshine, and I hope they never change.

photos: Josh Miller (click to embiggen)