It starts and ends here in San Francisco for Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, the musical diary of Owen Ashworth which closed its covers this Sunday evening at Bottom of the Hill. What started as a simpler venture into electronic pop and nostalgic imagery, the early songs referencing San Francisco’s beloved bars and transit systems, matured and moved as Owen did geographically. Though he’s resided in Chicago for some years now, Ashworth concluded the project where it started on its thirteenth anniversary (first show ever was in 1997), and not onstage alone, but with friends. The Donkeys were his backing band for the second half of Ashworth’s set; additionally, there were appearances by Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon/Red House Painters) and Owen’s longtime friend and musical influence, Jason Quever of Papercuts.
The set commenced in the quintessential Casiotone way: just Owen and his undersized table of magical knobs, with focus and sentiment toward creating a memorable last performance of these songs. The crowd was given a great survey of old numbers, though they weren’t performed in a routine fashion, but often reinvented or cranked up to rattling volumes. There was also an encore, and the last two Casiotone songs to ever be performed were “Toby Take a Bow” and his cover of Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia.”
An album under Ashworth’s new moniker “Advance Base” is said to drop soon, but until then, five full-lengths and an endless list of smaller releases will be remembered as the tender-hearted catalog of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. The show was supported by The Donkeys and The Ian Fays.