#64 – “Battle For The Planet Of The Apes” (1998)

Severe Tire Damage
L.K.: One in a series of “Planet of the Apes” songs, and one that mysteriously made its way back onto setlists as of 2011.
A.S.: I guess it was the Planet of the Apes Hollywood reboot that inspired TMBG to bring it back, but at the same time, did anyone even see that film?
L.K.: I sure didn’t. The stupid CGI monkeys with humanoid eyebrows were right in the very pit of the Uncanny Valley.
A.S.: Oh wait, I guess so.  It made nearly half a billion at the box office.
L.K.: It still looked like a stupid awful movie though. There are a lot of stupid people out there, just look at the success of Twilight.
A.S.: I guess since they did a song for every other Planet of the Apes film, they had to acknowledge this new one. But I do kind of hope it leaves the set now that they’re done touring for a while.
L.K.: Well, they’ve admitted that they did more Planet of the Apes songs than there were Planet of the Apes films, and they had no clue which one wasn’t a real film, so I don’t think they’re fans of the series by any means. They just seem to find it a weird jump-off point for improv madness.
A.S.: Well, “This Ape’s For You” is definitely not a film.
L.K.: The most recent incarnation of this song was sometimes branded “Ape Club” on setlists or at shows, and it featured the Johns (representing the apes) having a musical duel with Dan, Danny, and Marty (the people).
A.S.: With the audience’s chants being the deciding factor over who wins the battle.
L.K.: At some point during the Join Us tour Flans acquired some sort of mini spotlight to more easily split the audience into sides. It’s the whole audience division aspect that tends to take up a lot more time than the bit is really worth… The drunker parts of the audience tend to resist any effort by Flans to cultivate intolerance, ironically enough.
A.S.: Yeah, as demonstrated in the version on At Large, there’s about four and a half minutes of banter and maybe a minute and a half of actual music.
L.K.: Yeah, even though the song is ostensibly in the set as an audience participation thing, it’s really more about wasting time and the band goofing around for five or six minutes.
A.S.: I don’t know how many fans really, really enjoy the skit, but as much as I appreciate audience participation, I’d really much rather hear another two or three songs in the time it takes to do this bit.
L.K.: It’s just sort of disappointing, there are so many songs that haven’t been played since the 90s that people really would be excited to hear… and then this is the one that gets brought back. I guess there’s nothing for them to rehearse with it, unlike if they were to learn an actual song, but it’s still a letdown.
A.S.: Frank Zappa knew how to do audience participation really well. “The Bebop Tango of the Old Jazzmen’s Church” being a classic and absolutely hilarious example.  It would eat up a lot of time in setlists, but his shows were also usually two and a half hours long. Even just getting audience participation in little snippets of other songs, like “Why Don’t You Like Me” where he had audience members shout out the names of people who were not Michael Jackson’s illegitimate children, and the band would sing it back.
L.K.: I guess TMBG always had stuff in their setlists just to eat up time, but at least things like Spin The Dial were more interesting in theory, because if they worked, the results could be pretty crazy.
A.S.: Or the “Actual Size” drum solo, which required some audience participation, too.
L.K.: As far as audience participation, you know… they could always bring back the “scream as if you’re in hell” part of “Hide Away Folk Family”
A.S.: YES. That would rule.
L.K.: The audience would like it because it wouldn’t eat up five minutes of their time… but that’s probably why the band wouldn’t like it.
A.S.: I mean, they do banter a lot though, which is great. I much prefer bands that can talk in between songs and joke with the audience and seem like people, as opposed to just blowing through a setlist and not acknowledging the audience in any way.
L.K.: They could just banter more! People love that stuff. The puppets already fill a lot of that need.
A.S.:  Yeah, having the Avatars + “Battle” is a bit too much.
L.K.: Yeah. When they were doing things like “Phone Calls From The Dead”, that was before they had the Avatars. And the Avatars of They set keeps getting longer and longer too….
A.S.: There’s always been an element of a show break with bantering and so forth, which is a lot of fun, but having it twice in one show is a bit overkill.
L.K.: Yeah, I think we can all agree on that much.
A.S.: That all said, I feel like the apes have an unfair advantage anyway.
L.K.: Well if it’s any consolation, the people seem to (almost) always wind up winning.
A.S.: They have to shout over the bass and drums!
L.K.: They have a two-syllable word too. Always harder to shout.
A.S.: It is an exciting piece of music too on its own.  Fast, loud, energetic – pretty good stuff, but with all due respect, I think it’s time for this piece’s retirement.
2 Responses to “#64 – “Battle For The Planet Of The Apes” (1998)”
  1. Nathan says:

    I’m pretty sure Return to the Planet of the Apes wasn’t actually a movie either.

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