Holy fuck. Just.. holy fuck. I was in awe when I saw Kishi Bashi back at The Great Hall last year, for his album 151a, but seeing him at a packed Mod Club, with a full band, including the space banjo playing Tall Tall Trees, a beautiful stage set up, with two trees covered in a sheer draped material, that covered the back stage wall in layers, and when the light changed to a yellow, it looked like a shroud, was almost otherworldly.
The talent of Kaoru Ishibashi is fucking astounding (I’m going to swear a lot in this review, because this show made me feel all the feelings). A classically trained violinist; his lyrics, often tragic, poetic and beautiful, a lot of the times inspired by stories; he has such a wide range of musical taste and influence, which he incorporates beautifully into his eclectic, hard to pin down, infectious music.
He played half the show with his touring band, playing Carry on Phenomenon, which has almost an 80’s power ballad sound to it, he then went into a banjo-violin off with Mike Savino (of Tall Tall Trees). I need a minute to talk about Savino’s banjo. A) It changes colours. B) It’s souped up more than a car in the Fast and Furious movie franchise. With all these different uses, it allows for looping and effects, an electric snare, AND a bongo. EPIC. After their solo, they transitioned into Bright Whites off of 151a, I don’t think I stopped smiling once this show. Everyone around me at that moment was singing along to the line, “you and me at the edge of the world”. Bright Whites has the Beatles written all over it, insanely catchy hooks, fun, and you just want to bob up and down in a dancing fashion when you hear it, whilst hugging your neighbor.
After this jam, Kishi Bashi, went into the layering and looping of his vocals and violins (if you’ve never seen Kishi Bashi, he acts like a one man symphony, beat boxing his own percussion, and layers his violin with looping and plays over it). He did this, but ended up improv-ing and coming up with an electro beat (after he made a joke about us wanting some trap music). He then said “I hope someone recorded this, that was actually really cool!” It’s already up on Youtube.
His band began to exit the stage, but not before he tried to introduce his drummer, to find him gone. After a solid Spinal Tap reference, and the rest of his band left, the entire venue HUSHED. COMPLETELY SILENT. I’ve never seen that before and he played Atticus in the Desert, but stated he needed to start with a composition and proceeded to play a beautifully haunting violin solo that gave me goosebumps. After that, he went into The Bittersweet Genesis of Him and Her, off of new album Lighght, explaining he was inspired by the idea of Gaya, and how what if the Universe was created by two lovers who end up falling out. He also played I am the Antichrist To You and Manchester.
Coming back for the encore, they picked up the pace again with the insanely fun, danceable The Ballad of Mr. Steak, made us sing happy birthday to their merch girl, and capped it off with It all Began with a Burst, which began with a burst of confetti, raining down on us as I danced gleefully alone. When K Ishibashi left the stage again, the bassist Daniel Brunerd stayed on stage and immediately launched into a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, an insanely good cover, and completely out of left field, prompting K Ishibashi to run back on stage, pick up the violin and finish off the night just jamming the fuck out. I end this review the way I began it. Holy fuck. Kishi Bashi.
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Review by Lauren Morocco | @LaurenMorocc