Two Apple Tobacco at the Penthouse, Vancouver, May 2 2010
– by Shawn Conner/photos by Robyn Hanson (Two Apple Tobacco concert photo gallery)
The two guys who went in ahead of me were visibly confused. Pausing at the top of the steps, looking down towards the stage at the opposite end of the room, they must have been disappointed to see there Sunday night hopes of nudity dashed; instead of the naked ladies the Penthouse is usually home to, a three-piece jazz band was playing.
The two dudes backed out, but those who stuck around for the next act experienced the Frank Zappa-influenced Two Apple Tobacco. Playing a set that included at least one Zappa cover and, following a David Bowie impersonation contest with one contestant, the Scary Monsters tune “Up the Hill Backwards”, Two Apple Tobacco thoroughly entertained with some wacky and ambitious tunes.
It comes as no surprise to learn that two members, guitarist Daniel Deorksen and bassist Jordan Kling, met in a high-school jazz band – the tunes have tricky time signatures and multiple vocal parts, not to mention that Zappa influence (Zappa being one of the most jazz-friendly of rockers). But with two actors, Jessica Harvey and Courtney Lancaster, on lead vocals, the story-songs across are artfully delivered with theatrical gestures and occasional role-playing (Lancaster as a weather-girl: “It’s so wonderfully fucking sunny!”).
The songs (apparently from a yet-to-be-released post-apocalyptic concept album, Squinter’s Paradise) showcased the chops of Deorksen (who also sang) and Kling, as well as drummer Vern Shewchuk. Harvey and Lancaster did a little scat singing, and the latter demonstrated a vocal range that went from deep-down growls to high operatic notes.
I’m not sure what the two guys in search of some Sunday night ta-ta’s would’ve thought, but for music fans looking for something a little bit different, Two Apple Tobacco is a bright beacon of weirdness.