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Apples in Stereo, the Golden Spiderz and the Fantasy Four 

Saturday, May 19; Rocket Bar

This Saturday, the Rocket Bar is the place for smart pop people, with performances from two local acts and one national, each with its own fine take on '60s-informed garage pop. With a sense of whimsy as strong as its sense of melody, Denver's Apples in Stereo is one of the pop underground's shining success stories. From their humble 7-inch-single beginnings through their contract with a cool indie label (Spinart) to featured spots on national TV commercials, the band's members have never lost sight of why people like them: They write good songs, awash in lush harmony and chock-full of pop hooks. As the flagship band of the Elephant Six Collective (a loose congregation of like-minded bands such as Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control and a host of others), the Apples have an affinity for '60s AM pop, mostly drawing inspiration from midperiod Beatles and just-after-Brian-Wilson-went-crazy Beach Boys. They don't play it too sugary-sweet, though; some nice garagey fuzz pops up now and again as well.Opening the show are two of St. Louis' newest and finest garage-pop bands, the Golden Spiderz and the Fantasy Four. The Golden Spiderz temper their heavy '70s-style bong riffs with a knack for poppy hooks, ending up sounding something like Bob Pollard playing Grand Funk Railroad. The Fantasy Four -- featuring former Bunnygrunter Karen Stephens, Tics/Shiny Tim leader Marcia Pandolfi and drummer-about-town Jeff Hess -- cross Ramonesish punk with Nuggets-style fuzz-wah and girl-group harmonies.

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