live review

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, SFBH, Wellington

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, SFBH, Wellington

November 21 2009
The San Francisco Bath House, Wellington

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone with Concern
The San Francisco Bath House, Wellington
21st November 2009

Sometimes the most hellish weeks of incredible boredom present themselves and you are both mentally and physically drained by Friday and in serious need of a beverage by like 3pm said day. Then there are weeks where every day presents itself with opportunities to be educated, inspired and ultimately impressed. The previous seven days have presented the former, particularly for me and my obsession with the written word and therefore the lyrical element of a musician’s craft.

First came an interview with Jarvis Cocker, arguably one of the most talented, eloquent and relevant lyricists since Pulp broke on the world with no sign of slowing down with the release of his sophomore solo record Further Complications (“I met her in a museum of paleontology / And I make no bones about it” – BAM) and who was invited to give lectures about the worthiness of, um, words in songs at the Brighton Festival a couple years back. Then there was a lesser known, but certainly as eloquent (if not quite as reverent) American counterpart in the form of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, who graced our shores for the second time in a year this past weekend.

Having had one of the mighty-busiest two days of my life preceeding this fairly bleak (weather-wise at least) Saturday I was less than thrilled (and I’m euphemizing) at the idea of stepping foot into San Fran, greeted by the usual mass of sweaty, anxious fans and tightly packed, windswept smokers balcony. Considering the generally somber tone of Casiotone’s work it would have been none surprising to find every single awkwardly moving and talking, skinny jean and bespectacled emotional-wreck indie kid that resides in Wellington at said gig, and although there were a few fake-prescription frames (cringe) scattered throughout it was surprisingly and pleasantly diverse and polite with particular attention paid to the semi-circles of punters seated-on-floor stage front waiting for proceedings to begin.

Unfortunately missing Seth Frightening – which was particularly upsetting considering his previous project Seth and Merle was possibly the cutest thing ever and I had just been to a screening of Toi Whakari Drama School’s final year project ‘Quarters’ to which he had scored an excellent soundtrack – I spent almost the entirety of Concern – brother and constant tour buddy to Casiotone – on the balcony. Embarassing confession sure, but honestly this decision was made entirely by a constant and all-consuming monotonic synth drone that went on for seriously 15 minutes and I.couldn’t.handle.it.anymore. To be honest it didn’t look like things got that much more exciting and it’s potentially appropriately to subtly suggest nepotism at this stage? Although I guess I can’t judge, I was outside – ultimately though, there was nothing to coax me back.

The bearded personification of a cuddly bear that is Casiotone for the Painfully Alone graced the stage next and immediately launched into a number of loved-up and loved-down ditties from Etiquette much to the crowd’s, and my, delight. Isn’t he just so god damn depressingly cute? ‘Nashville Parthenon’, ‘Etiquette ID’ and ‘New Years Kiss’ were all greeted with cheering and surprisingly accurate lyric recounting from the first synth chord to the last as was a lo-fi, beautifully executed and lyrically-awkward rendition of my personal favourite ‘I Love Creedence’. Amongst these tracks was some serious programming and little hand dancing which was all his manning-of-such-a-technical desk really allowed in the form of movement.

There was a natural space and rhythm to the live performance that the recordings hint and slight differentiations in timing, drum beats and lyrics, and ultimately everything just sounded more real, and therefore pained because of it. These tracks were interspersed not only with the aforementioned shakey-shakes of the hands but with nonchalant crowd banter like “are you guys having a nice time? Good, I hope so” – aww. Cute! And then the taking of requests to which followed heaps more tracks the likes of which were ‘Holly Hobby’ ‘Scattered Pearls’ and ‘Cold White Christmas’. Honestly? Probably the cutest thing I have seen in a perfectly understated middle-aged depressed way. Hey, at least he’s dealing with it by writing the most eloquently suicidal two and a half minute pop songs rather than pining after Kristen Stewart in Twilight like everyone else.



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