The story of Sweet Apple is actually quite heavy. Most super-groups are formed from within a cloud of selective reminiscence and envisioned potential, but Sweet Apple came together in the wake of tragedy and despondence. Future front man John Petkovic had just lost his mother to a long and horrid illness, and he was beginning to spiral quickly into the den of self destruction. One unexpected phone call later and bassist Dave Sweetapple and drummer J. Mascis (Mascis fronts Dinosaur Jr. and both are in the band Witch) convinced Petkovic to get started on some songs for their new project Sweet Apple.
With this goal in mind Petkovic, teamed up with bandmate Tim Parnin of Cobra Verde and they had over twenty songs within three weeks. From great tragedy comes great opportunity and, at times, great collaborations as well.
Sweet Apple came out swinging and put on a great show for the sold-out crowd at Café Du Nord on Friday night. I was not familiar with their music before the show but by the second song I found the choruses ricocheting around my brain and the guitar hooks pleasantly predictable.
Petkovic is a born front man. His hands cupped the microphone with perfect ease song after song as he shrieked out lyrics and engaged the audience in interspersed banter between howls. The band seemed at ease, laughing at Petkovic’s antics and holding the mid-song lulls long enough for him to build his rant into rave before they all exploded into synchronicity again.
This is a band of seasoned veterans of the scene with over 20 years of experience – per member – and that was apparent in their performance. Sure, some of the songs were sloppy and they were the first to admit that there may be a little rust under the hood, but overall Sweet Apple showed a versatility and confidence that only comes with experience. Each song was purposeful and driving, a stripped down, gentler side of psychedelic rock with a smattering of R&B and 90s alternative thrown in for good measure.
J. Mascis may be the drummer in Sweet Apple but his overall impact on “alternative” music is undeniable. This influence was apparent throughout the set, which speaks volumes about the collaboration that went on in the song-writing process. Sweet Apple is not about ego; it is not about domination or malice. This band was formed out of the desire to remedy a friend in need. Mascis claims that the band saved Petkovic’s life, and after seeing them on stage I believe this to be true. From great bands come great side projects. Add Sweet Apple to the list.