Published Jun 07, 2015Though Latin-tinged rockers Apostle of Hustle were booked to play their 2004 debut Folkloric Feel from front-to-back for their first gig in four years, things were complicated by the fact that their set time was shorter than the record, which tended to go long live in the first place. Undeterred, the trio rearranged it to trim the fat, a decision that paid off in spades. Not only was the glee of being onstage together after a hiatus palpable for the longtime bandmates, but their musical strengths had clearly only gotten better in the interim: the voice of lead singer Andrew Whiteman, formerly of Broken Social Scene and presently one-half of AroarA, came across much clearer and more confident, now more of a leading presence than another part of the atmosphere; drummer Dean Stone absolutely nailed his fills and breakdowns, most notably on "Sleepwalking Ballad"; and bassist Julian Brown doled out groove after bass groove.
Though much of the record features ambient noises to bolster the atmosphere, some of which ended up detracting from the main musical focus, the live setup allowed for none of that, instead letting the rock core shine unimpeded. This was most apparent with "Dark Is What I Want/Strutter's Ball," with the jam that leads the second half rocking out thanks to Brown's walking bass line. The band played the album front-to-back except with the opening and closing tracks swapped, which closed things out with the jammy, shifting title track, that again improved on the studio version due to the stripped-down instrumentation. It was a successful reunion for the trio that never once felt like they were going through the motions due to the set-length constraint.