Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
JENNA CORDEROY reviews Casiotone’s final tour
14th November, The Haymakers, £8-£10.
It’s surprising that Owen Ashworth, the mastermind of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (CFTPA), wasn’t scooped up to play at the larger venues of Cambridge. With a music career spanning across thirteen years, numerous albums under his belt, and one final tour until he lays his project to rest, at first The Haymakers didn’t quite match his stature. But with its low ceilings and dingy lighting, the pub was the perfect, intimate setting for the one-man show. As his fans poured through the doors, the humble Ashworth, dressed in a lumberjack shirt and jeans, sat quietly in the corner next to his souvenir stall.
Supporting CFTPA was Munch Munch, a percussion-heavy indie band with glockenspiels galore, and was warmly received by the small audience. With a mixture of erratic rhythms, keyboard distortions, and impressive duo drumming skills, overexcited hipsters couldn’t resist the urge to dance like out-of-time demented chickens. Oh well, never mind. Despite having much talent and potential, one cannot help branding Munch Munch as another ‘indie band’ with an interest in math rock –they just lacked something.
Up next was Casiotone, looking lost as he sauntered on stage to set up his homemade electronic equipment, consisting of various old school keyboards, plugs and switches looking as if they were held by blue tack. There were no introductions, no cheers, the audience just gathered round and he launched into his experimental set. It was understated, honest and strangely humbling to watch Ashworth turn on simplistic samples of beats and synths, singing over them in his usual forlorn manner as the audience bopped their heads and tapped their feet appreciatively.
Starting the set with bittersweet songs taken from his most recent album ‘Advance Base Battery Life’, ‘White on White’ saw the audience mumbling the melancholic chorus under their breath. There was a collective pleasing sigh for ‘Killers’, but before the audience got all teary-eyed, Ashworth thankfully played some more uplifting Hot Chip-esque tracks, as well as the spiritual American ditty ‘Optimist vs Silent Alarm’, complete with an electronic joyful cover of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’.
‘Lesley Gore on the T.A.M.I. Show’ and ‘Old Panda Days’ provoked smiles all round, and turning off his music machine for a quick break, Ashworth had a short question and answer session with the audience, talking about his days on tour, his background, anecdotes about Ireland, and future projects. When asked why he was giving up with CFTPA, he sadly answered ‘it’s time to stop’. Switching on his keyboards again, he took requests from his admiring fans. However the highlight of the evening for me had to have been his cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Streets of Philadelphia’, adding synths and a ticking drum beat, creating a ghostly, almost lacklustre tone. It was beautiful, and I would even go to the extent of stating its better than the original.
It was clear that Ashworth, as indicated in his Q&A session, was tired of his project, and his dreariness in his music and charisma was slightly overbearing for a Sunday night, but it was an enjoyable set, and was sad to learn that it was his Final Tour. Turning off his keyboards for the night, awkward Casiotone was greeted by adoring fans, and looked surprised at the idea that they wanted to hug and chat. Niceties out the way, he looked for his seat in the corner, next to his CD souvenir stand, and sat quietly for the rest of the evening.