Published Nov 01, 2003This was the perfect way for quiet-to-loud fanatics to spend a dozy-to-charged Sunday night. The master instrumentalists in both the intense Maserati and the ridiculously talented Mercury Program were well-suited openers – the set-ending build-up-to-sharp stop of the former nearly inducing heart attacks. Kansas's most honest not-emo purveyors of trustworthy pretty-rock book-ended their set with a keenly crafted intro and outro. This introductory song kept the instro-rock thing happening for the Appleseed Cast until Christopher Crisci's timid vocals appeared near the end – a barely audible utterance that eventually grew into his familiar, comforting and expansive intonation. The Cast are simply different on a stage; their strength still lays in conveying the most heartfelt intuitions, but in person they maximise their talents to create a drawn out tunnel of sound that can suck you in. Lingering traces of poppiness and production seem removed, making for a result that takes the bad with the good. Their sound is more natural in this light – vocals were often gruff and un-sanded, while smooth guitars stay as such – but changing up the pace, as Two Conversations does so well, no longer appears an effortless task and attention spans felt compelled to wander. Surprisingly, very little, including the dramatic "Fight Song," was covered from the most recent recording. Instead,, fondly remembered older songs like "Fishing the Sky," "Santa Maria" and "Forever Longing the Golden Sunsets," from the sweetly rambunctious Mare Vitalis, were revisited, luckily sparking a little glee in old-time fans witnessing the band at their first ever Canadian appearance. Ultimately, the Appleseed Cast feel like a band you've got to see a couple of times, and often. All their faults are forgiven by way of mere charm, so I bet their moms are really proud.