By Johanna Sommer
All photos by Eli Barnes.
LUDOH, the name 21-year-old studio composition major Ashton McDaniel records under, had his first live performance this past Tuesday in the PTV Studio as part of the PTV Unplugged live music series. Backed by the always-present drummer Danny Eberle, bassist Dylan Kahan, and Joe Ippolito on guitar, LUDOH had a chance to perform his debut album Notions Of The Pit, which came out this past March, in addition to an unreleased track titled “Mukbang.”
The set started off with the spoken word song “The Damage I Do To My Liver and Lungs” before plunging into “Monoxide,” a song that ebbs and flows from moments
of delicate tenderness to an industrial thrashing. In a way, this balance of intimacy and destruction is emblematic of LUDOH’s namesake from the 1986 David Bowie movie Labyrinth. In the movie, Ludo is a formidable beast who, contrary to appearances, has a gentility and affection, much like McDaniel’s chosen title.
Perhaps the song that displays this dichotomy most clearly is “Noose With Her Tongue,” a song that begins with a lulled ambience that leaves audience members wondering what direction the track is going to shift towards. Almost as soon as McDaniel entered with soothing vocals, the entire band crashed in with a sinister burst, epitomizing his structured dissonance.
One highlight of the performance could be found in the form of an ambiguous metal structure that read “KICK ME” in blue spray paint laid at LUDOH’s feet. As the set opened, he instructed the audience to beat up the figure at their discretion. By the end of the set it was completely dented, a result of channeled fury.
Despite his frame, it seemed that even people outside the Hub could hear LUDOH’s screams, for his voice and backing band felt like they could pin audience members to the wall with their power. It was in this way he seemed to embody the LUDOH persona, as the McDaniel that performed between his opening and closing remarks was transformed by the nature of his song, leaving a lasting impression. The fourth song off Notions Of The Pit is titled “I Have Nothing to Say,” and after watching him perform, this is clearly not true.
Look out for a future LUDOH show, happening this December at The Stood.