Last night, as a result of Sunday lethargy and a vague inclination, I rolled up to Whelans for Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. It’s only the third gig I’ve been to in 2007, and the first that I’m blogging about (So Cow in Galway went on the Analogue blog, and I just wasn’t arsed doing Grand Pocket Orchestra). Are you as excited as I am?
The first support was Storkboy Choons, a Kells man with the uncanny ability to look exactly like Asleep On The Compost Heap. It’s fairly ambient stuff, and a weird thing to have on early in the night at an indie gig, but it makes sense that Storkboy would be pitching to that crowd rather than the clubbing crowd. It was actually really enjoyable, sort of cathartic. Things went in unusual directions and then sort of reeled in. The volume also seemed to increase steadily for the whole set. The general buzz was probably assisted by the fact that every Kells citizen of child-bearing age seemed to be there to support.
There are negative sides to playing such ambient stuff live obviously – not having any gaps in the whole set meant that concentration tended to wander, even though it totally made sense from a musical point of view. Also, a seated audience from the broad rock tradition (as opposed to the dance tradition) is going to be staring at the two guys sitting at their laptops tweaking Ableton, and it’s not the most visually stimulating experience. But it was the first Storkboy Choons gig. Between the fact that the music was actually quite decent, and the way that the dynamics of the set worked with tunes working into each other in ebbs and swells, there were the guts of a really good act. Definitely interesting enough to keep watching in the future.
Second on was Ugly Megan. I actually (cryptically) named this entry after Ugly Megan and used a picture of them instead of Owen Ashworth because of how much I liked them. They are from Waterford. And they are the lo-est of fi. The mouldiest of peaches, if you will. The Moldy Peaches is the best gateway into describing them, I’d say. It’s a boy and a girl, and they fluctuate from hyper-twee music with intentionally naive lyrics to hyper-twee music with knowingly referential lyrics. Their voices even sound a little bit like Kimya and Adam’s. But it’s not a wholesale thing.
The mechanics of how they make music are pretty interesting. More than one song started with the gentleman (Orlando, according to the title of one of their songs) pounding his fist off the soundboard of his acoustic guitar for a bass-drum and clacking muted strings for a snare. And then looping it. A salutably lo-fi way of laying down a sick beat, if you ask me. The lady (Kathi according to the title of the above song) loops on what could have either been a xylophone or a keyboard on xylophone setting or maybe both. They both sing, in a really unpretentious and effortless way. They have quite catchy songs. Orlando is also so awkward on-stage that he seems to find it incredibly difficult to do anything. But that actually comes off as endearing in context. They exchange looks and nods when they change bits. They just generally defrost my frosty blogger cynicism. I liked them a lot.
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone came on at about 9.50. I have listened to Etiquette quite a lot since it came out, on last-bus trips home alone and in my room depressedly studying. But I think that’s probably the optimum place to listen to Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, unfortunately. Owen Ashworth is a bearish man, and if I were to summarise his live show in one sentence it would be thus: “A man played tracks and mumbled his songs into a microphone, then got his friend to sing for a while, then mumbled Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Parenthetical Girls into a microphone”.
That seems a little unfair, because it is. He’s good enough to listen to. But I think if I didn’t already know the songs I would’ve had trouble following what he was saying, and the whole point of Casiotone is (ironically not the Casiotone backing but) the short-storyesque lyrics. He played all the hits, and for me the cover of Love Connection was probably the highlight. New Year’s Kiss and Bobby Malone Moves Home were both also quite good. Holly Hobby was sung as Bobby Hobby, weirdly. Overall, something was just lacking for me though. Unfortunately.
I’d probably plus the gig on CFTPA’s merits anyway, but Ugly Megan and Storkboy secure it. Sorry for the incoherence. I have no excuse, really.