Concert Review: Casiotone for the Painfully Alone at Bar, January 23

Concert Review: Casiotone for the Painfully Alone at Bar, January 23
Photo by Hannah Persson

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
Bar, Miami
Saturday, January 23, 2010

Better Than: Slitting your wrists

The Review:

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It's hard to say whether or not it's really a wise idea to catch Casiotone for the Painfully Alone while plunged into the proverbial depths of despair. On the one hand, it's kinda heartening to see that no matter how bad you've got it, someone else has it a whole lot worse. On the other, there's a chance that compounding the sadness might just drive you to drink far more than the recommended dosage for suicide. Then again, there's that whole commiseration thing, and you know what they say about misery and company.

Still, somber generally does tend to beget more somber, no matter how much Johnson's Baby Shampoo you use. And that's the paradox behind Casiotone's melancholy culling: it's sad to the point of no more tears.


As anyone who read last year's piece on him knows,

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone is one Owen Ashworth, a Cali-born,

Chicago-based brooder who's made a career out of singing nothing but

sad songs. On that last occasion he was in South Florida, Ashworth

played White Room, where he had a packed house of indie hipsters crying

in their cleats.

This go 'round Ashworth chose to stage at the

brand new (O.H.W.O.W.) Bar. And though there was a healthy contingent

of indie hipsters present at this re-creation of songs too; there was

also a heaping helping of art crowd insiders. That neither attending

camp are of the type to even admit to sentiment, let alone show it, is

either testament to Ashworth's ever-growing allure, or the whole damn

Mainland came down with a mad case of the sads and needed some kinda

cure-all. Whatever it was, Ashworth played a set long enough to read

the whole of Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, and, unlike most club shows, the crowd actually increased the more he sang.

What

exactly did he sing, you ask? Hmmm. That's a tough one. Not that all of

the sad songs sound the same, mind you (though they certainly are of

the same strain). It's just that after awhile you become more immersed

in the atmosphere created when they're all sung together at a single

stand. And keeping track of titles would really wreck the effect.

Okay,

I do seem to recall that Ashworth performed "Young Shields" and "Bobby

Malone Moves Home" (off '06's Etiquette). And there's a good chance I

heard "The Only Way to Cry" (off '09's Advance Base Battery Life).

But I can't be sure. Just as I couldn't tell you whether or not I

really heard "Tonight Was a Disaster" or I was simply preoccupied in my

own personal drama. Yes, the songs speak that personally.

Speaking

of those songs though, whichever ones they were, to say they are all

soundtracks for potential suicides would really be missing the point.

Sure, Ashworth more often than not errs on the side of the sullen. And

yes, many a shut-in would find great favor in the adamant loneliness.

But, as I've said before, there's also a tinge of hopefulness here. And

taken as prescribed, Ashworth's catalog might just cure heartbreak

after all. It's certainly strong enough to serve as some kinda antidote

to whatever ails those foolish enough to fall for another in the first

place.

If I've one objection to last Friday night's appearance,

it's that it wasn't Valentine's Day, because that's when his tonic

really would come in handy.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I think I once killed myself to "Don't They Have Payphones Wherever You Were Last Night."

Random Detail: (O.H.W.O.W.) Bar puts the bands on early and on time. What a novel (and welcome) concept!

By the Way: Like last year, Ashworth's appearance was part of an extended Florida-only tour. Gainesville and Tallahassee are still to come.


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