Assembly of Dust, Mercury Lounge, NYC – 12/30
I am, admittedly, a little new to the jamband scene. After seeing my first Phish show in the summer of 2010, my 20 year old self realized that there was more to music than the top forty pop nonsense. Since then, I have been trying to take in as much as I can by osmosis; catching as many shows as time and my budget will allow.
Why am I telling you this? Needing to get out of my small college town of Lyndonville, Vermont, I took a trip to see Strangefolk in Burlington last March. Three memories permeate my mind. 1. Almost leaving my sanity in the all diamond plated bathroom of Nectars (if you haven’t been there, it’s like a spaceship. Wild. 2. Cheap Long Trail draft beer, 3. My friend Dan telling me that if I liked what I heard that night, I need to check out Assembly of Dust, and more specifically the former front man Reid Genauer. Fast forward almost ten months later, and I found myself at the Mercury Lounge in New York with Dan, catching my first Assembly of Dust show.
So, for a bit of context, any part of this review that comes off as the perspective of an “AOD veteran” is information that came from conversations myself and Dan had about the show. So it will be a bit like the show “Ghostwriter”, but with less detective work.
The show opened with “Bootlegger’s Advice”, and I found myself instantly digging the sound. The guitar riff got me bobbing my head, and by the time Reid got to the refrain of “sometimes that’s how it goes” I was blown away not only by his voice, but also by picture painted in my mind by the lyrics; something that was true about most of the songs played that night. A shout out in “Man With A Plan” got a rise out of the crowd (I was a man with a plan and I landed in New York City). A cool song with a catchy rhyme scheme, it really started to take off at the end. I would not, however, see the full jamming potential of Assembly of Dust until the first set closer, “Songs We Sing.” “Edges” slowed the set down bit, but not in a negative way. It just had more of a dreamy feel to it than the first two offerings. “Telling Sue” had some good vocal harmonization in the chorus. Solid renditions of “Drawn,” “15 Arrows,” “High Brow” and “Cold Coffee” led us into what I thought was the highlight of the set for sure. Not that I hadn’t enjoyed the rest of the first set – it was very well played – but “Songs We Sing” is what sold me on this band. An absolute scorcher of a jam, I felt like I was seeing the band performing at their highest lever. A very energetic way to close out a very tight first set.
The energy from “Songs We Sing” was carried over into the second set, which opened with a very enjoyable and up tempo “Bus Driver” and never let up. The chorus of “never let ‘em go never get away” stuck in my head long after the show ended (even though I had no idea what Reid was saying at the time). “Second Song” was very well played, and as I looked for more versions of it online I came across some done with Keller Williams…If you haven’t heard, I highly recommend them.
Next came the Strangefolk classic “Roads,” which again got a pretty substantial rise from the crowd. I know I sound like a broken record, but the lyrics again really stood out on this one. “I don’t know where I’m going but I’ll get there/Sometimes I’m wondering where will it be?”
Now, the cool thing about seeing a show with no expectations is that you are never disappointed; what sucks is you have no idea when something unique and cool is about the happen. Although I enjoyed it, I had no idea I was seeing some sort of “Westerly”/”Lone Tree” combination/segue sandwich. In Dan’s exact words “Just good old fashioned awesome Reid, throwing ‘Lone Tree’ lyrics into ‘Westerly,’ ‘Westerly’ lyrics into ‘Lone Tree’ and everything else in between. Honestly what I love most about Reid”. This is one I really wish I could hear again .
Next, Reid treated the crowd to a solo cover of Gillian Welch’s “Look At Ms. Ohio.” The haunting lyrics of “I wanna do right but not right now” echoed through the silent crowd. I’m not exaggerating when I saw I had chills throughout the entire song.
The encore was a somewhat slowed down performance of “Mama”, which included a Boston shout out (““Boston bars and city cars and city lights”). All in all, I had a blast at my first Assembly Of Dust show, and this is certainly an act I’ll be looking to check out again. Overall, great music, great crowd, and the band seemed very down to earth and just happy to be playing their music, a quality lost in a lot of modern music.