The Grapes of Wrath, you probably remember from high school, is John Steinbeck’s classic 1939 novel of the working poor. The novel exposed some of the nightmares behind the California dream and helped win Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature. “Apes of Wrath” is the 1959 Bugs Bunny classic about a drunken stork who mistakenly delivers Bugs instead of a baby gorilla to an expectant ape family. Mostly it tells the story of how Bugs and the daddy gorilla, whose name is Elvis, go about hitting each other on the head with sticks.
The San Diego band Apes of Wrath is kind of like a combination of both of those classics — there’s a hint of the dark side, a good deal of critical acclaim, and a whole lot of brainless rock ’n’ roll fun.
Writing about the Apes of Wrath’s album Plastic, Fake, and Frozen in these pages a couple of months ago, Ollie noted the Apes’ powerful bass lines and heavy drum beats and described the Apes as a more rock ’n’ roll, less pretentious version of Franz Ferdinand. That’s a fair comparison, but I also hear an appealingly off-kilter quality in the Apes of Wrath’s guitar parts that I couldn’t put my finger on until I heard the band play a cover of a Devo song.
Whatever comparison you make, the Apes have been gathering buzz, picking up a San Diego Music Awards nomination and going quickly from Monday nights at the Casbah to, next month, the Casbah’s high-profile 20th anniversary show. The Apes have also picked up some powerful allies, including locals Scarlet Symphony (with whom the Apes share some stylistic similarities) and Louis XIV (with whom they don’t, really).
Years Around the Sun and Scarlet Symphony also perform.
APES OF WRATH, Belly Up, Monday, December 22, 8 p.m. 858-481-8140. $8.