Aloysius/Asumaya; October 24, 2010; Project Lodge
When my cousin Johnny lived in Madison he joined This Bright Apocalypse, an African influenced math-rock band headed by Luke Bassuener. When he left town after nine months, Luke seemed to have tired of constantly replacing band members and started Asumaya, which fulfilled a prediction I had made that eventually he would become a one-man band. He still plays all the songs he wrote for TBA, but uses loops and samples to replace missing band members. The first couple shows were a little rough, the looping went well enough, but feedback was a constant problem, usually induced by the innocent looking kalimba, an African thumb piano. His set the previous Tuesday at Mickeys went smoothly, and sounded great, and he promised then that tonight would be all different songs.
It’s impressive to watch him work, patiently layering bass, vocals and a variety of percussion instruments, most of which I don’t know the name of. Once he gets his backing tracks, he sings and plays the melody on the bass. It works well partly because he is a terrific percussionist, but also because of his endless patience. None of his songs are short, and by the time he loops everything some of the songs become downright epic. However, the melodies are so engaging, his voice so pleasant and the rhythm so hypnotic that the set never gets tedious.
It was Sunday night and the Packers were playing a night game, so I don’t think anyone was expecting an amazing turnout, but it was probably even a little more dismal than expected and the audience couldn’t even be called a smattering. It was nice to see Jeremiah, who has his own shows nearly every night, and Carlos, who shows up in the most unexpected places. That was about it for the crowd, still at least my sister and I were there for Johnny’s solo Madison debut. He goes by his middle name Aloysius for these gigs, and when Steve joins him on drums he’s known as the crash and thud revue. Wait, that should probably be capitalized, Crash and Thud Revue. This was Johnny’s fourth show in five nights on a tour he dubbed Blowin’ Up in B’loit. While all the gigs had been successes according to him, they had taken their toll on his voice and there were times I couldn’t even hear his vocals. His set consisted mostly of originals, many of which I’d heard at a show several months back in Minneapolis, with a couple of covers, notable Springsteen’s “No Surrender.”
It was nice to see him and Steve play, though next time I hope we get the first night of the tour.