Show review

By Written by Tim Newby
Glide Magazine
March 3, 2005

World Live Cafe-Philadelphia PA

It is funny how sometimes you have to quiet things down to bring up someones energy. A mid-set acoustic break by the Assembly of Dust helped the band refocus and draw the crowd into the groove. The night started off with an uncharacteristic mistake by lead singer, Reid Genauer, who messed up the lyrics to the opening song Sinner. Ad that to a crowd whose energy level was lacking at first, due to a lengthy delay in getting the show started, made for a band that seemed tense on stage and a crowd that was a bit stand-offish. Combine this with a sound-mix that just was not right and you get a sluggish start to the show.

Things seemed to slowly work themselves out, and by the 4th song of the night, Valhalla, the sound was just about right, the crowd was finding their place and the band seemed to get their collective tension about shaken off. It was not until the band put down their electric instruments and picked up the acoustic ones, did the ship get completely righted though. Mentioning a Del McCoury show they had recently seen, the band was inspired to play an acoustic set acoustic themselves. Genauer explained that they thought they would be playing in the smaller room upstairs, and had planned on playing the entire show unplugged. Despite the switch to the much larger room downstairs, the band still wanted to play at least a part of the planned acoustic set. Genauer asked everyone to practice their zen, so that we would all be able to hear. With Genauer and Adam Terrell on acoustic guitars, bassist John Leccese on an upright bass, keyboardist Nate Wilson on accordion and flute, and drummer Andy Herrick on a single small drum played with brushes, the band may have turned down the sound, but they brought up the energy.

Starting of with the Neil Young classic Comes a Time, that seemed to sum up the night to that point, Comes a time when youre a drifting. Comes a time when you settle down. It was during this short acoustic set that the band finally did settle down. They followed this up with a newer song, Avenue of the Giants and Mudspring Draw, which harkened back to Genauers days in Strangefolk. And closed out the short set with a passionate version of Crest of My Wing. The entire set was played with a quiet intensity that seemed to rejuvenate the band.

With all those in attendance now in the right frame of mind and ready to rock, the band took us on a tour through all facets of their repertoire. This allowed us to see the growth of this band, from an informal gathering of friends coming together to back up Genauer at a series of one-off gigs, to a tight, well-polished unit that has developed their own unique sound and approach to songwriting. This growth is evident in how they reinterpret songs from their other bands. Rachel, an old Strangefolk standard, has a much fuller, fatter sound now. This is due in large part to Adam Terrells lead guitar and Nate Wilsons tasteful solos, all the while still underscored by Genauers subtle rhythm guitar that provides the song with its texture and feel. Another tune that got a bit of a face-lift was Skyline, borrowed from Wilsons days with Percy Hill. Slowed down and with a quieter touch, Skyline had one of the nicest jams of the night, a nice little run from Wilson complimented by Lecceses bouncy bass line.

The development of this band is also very noticeable in the songwriting of Wilson and Genauer. Both songwriters for their other bands, they have combined their talents to give the Assembly of Dust a defining sound. Early Assembly of Dust set lists were mostly a combination of Strangefolk songs and Genauer-only penned tunes that he adapted for his new band. Recent set lists however have seen an increase in new Genauer/ Wilson material. The Harrower, Man with a plan, Bootleggers Advice, and Chorpus Christi all stood out this evening as strong examples of this new partnership.

Over the last half of the show, Genauer showed why he is one of the most engaging front men that people will have the pleasure of seeing live. He owned the stage and captivated all those in attendance with his energetic, honest approach to performing. Giving life to all the different characters that inhabit is stories and songs, Tim on the veranda, sensitive Rachel, Samuel Aging Spalding, even a dog-named Moses. They become people we know and relate to, finding our friends or ourselves in the lines of his songs.

The band follows Genauers lead and after the early stumble, they seemed to tense up on stage. Visibly relaxing during the mini-acoustic set, the Assembly of Dust echoed what they sang abou t in Comes a Time - there comes a time when you have to drift, but there also comes a time when you have to settle down. The band settled down, got quiet with their acoustic set and brought the crowds energy up through the roof.