King Ayisoba / Zea / Howie Reeve – Wed 9th April – Café Oto, Dalston, London

King Ayisoba


A trio of solo performances united in their passion and brilliance, if not in style, illuminated the Café Oto for a memorable show.

Howie Reeve


Howie Reeve was an avuncular presence, opening with a joke about the Uncle Bonmee ghost-audience caused by the glare of spots–lights in his eyes.  His character seemed as fluid, warm and engaging as his wonderful music, playing acoustic-bass avant-folk infused with traces of Minutemen and Slint.  A river of humour ran through the set: a song with an intro “a bit like Cool for Cats”; lyrics about people playing “arpeggios with their willies”, and the beautiful line “your heart is like a sack of drowned puppies.”  This was music meandering and generous with its audience, open and bright, he mused that we must be accustomed to a higher instrumental proficiency at the Café Oto; certainly not a more shining imagination.  One highlight was a moment where the audience were invited to make a low guttural croak during a song about high scoring Scrabble tactics and living vivaciously.  There was an abundance of heart and soul in every string reverberation, revealing and illuminative, deviously circuitous.  Howie Reeve is on to something here, fuck knows what it is but you should allow him to lead you off Aguirre-style, adorned with monkeys, eyes brimming with whisky-soaked genius and lunacy. 



Zea is the solo alias of Arnold de Boers, vocalist in The Ex; using a minimal set-up of guitar and sampler, he created a maximal one-man polemical punk funk pop juggernaut.  Mechanistic but ramshackle with it, he deployed wobbling bass electronics, dub and scabrous guitar scrapings; the solemn but excitable lyrics evocative of prime Guy Picciotto confronto-barking.  There was sharp electro-punk poetry “taken to a field where donkeys grow” shouted with heart-lifting anger.  Zea fills the veins and lights-up brains without neglecting to move your feet.  He was joined by King Ayisoba for a rousing and thrilling rendition of Leadbelly’s ‘Bourgeois Blues’.

King Ayisoba appeared solo this evening due to problems with visas after full-band performances all over Europe; he conquered the venue in their absence.  The show was one of ultra-repetitive dance music, the audience invited to participate and urged to move and sing.  His two-string kologo guitar drilled skull-holes with endlessly bouncing riffs, shouted vocals about wicked leaders and love buttressing the bore, sluicing the mind with pure molten sweaty joy.  This was a commanding, infectious and magisterial set.  King Ayisoba ruled the Dalston night with his two eccentric lieutenants.

King Ayisoba and Zea performing Leadbelly’s ‘Bourgeois Blues’




Information on King Ayisoba, Howie Reeve, and Zea: here, here, and here.
Cafe Oto programme: here.

All photography by
© Dawid Laskowski

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