Apollo Sunshine @ Mercury Lounge, NYC 10/29/08

If there is a worse night of the week to see a gig than Wednesday I don’t know what it is. Wednesday is hump day; three days of work have already tired you out, but you still have two more staring you down, so it’s not always best to go all night. That said, the right show can change all that. A great concert with the band and the crowd feeding off each other’s energy can make you forget about all your midweek woes.

I was really hoping Wednesday night’s Apollo Sunshine show at Mercury lounge was going to be one of those gigs. I hadn’t actually checked out much of Apollo Sunshine’s music prior to the show, but I had heard enough people sing their praise that I was really looking forward to checking out a new band. When I heard that in the spirit of the season they would actually be appearing as The Apollo Sunshine Experience, donning costumes straight out of Hair and playing Hendrix covers I was totally sold.

Unfortunately it was the spirit of Wednesday that owned the night. I’m not entirely sure if it was a lack of energy from the crowd that through the band off, or if their was something slightly off with Apollo Sunshine that led to a weak crowd. Whatever it was, something wasn’t quite clicking at Mercury Lounge.

By the time the threesome took the stage, The Apollo Sunshine Experience seemed more myth than reality. Vocalist/bassist Jesse Gallagher, vocalist/guitarist Sam Cohen and drummer Jeremy Black came out not in the garb of the ’70’s but in the uniform of the indie scene and broke into some decidedly un-Jimi tunes.

The Sunshine set was uneven, following the high of a great psychedelic freakout with a failed attempt at an old song off their debut album Katonah. The band never quite hit a groove, and the crowd in the room never got there either. At one point Gallagher had to decry even the lack of hecklers. It’s a shame too because the band is obviously talented, mixing one part pop with one part indie rock and a whole heaping pile of psychadelia. Cohen’s guitar work especially stood out on extended, distorted solos.

After a 60 minute set of originals, the band took a 15 minute break. When they returned it was full on afro time. The Apollo Sunshine Experience tore through a few Hendrix tunes including “Foxy Lady” and ending with “Are You Experience?” After a brief conference in the middle of the stage they called it quits, an abrupt finish to the gig, but it was clear that Wednesday had gotten the better of us all.

Any time you’ve got a touring band that hits the road the way Apollo Sunshine does, there are bound to be off nights. When the Experience hits the Iron Horse on Halloween my bet is it will be a different story.