A few months ago I bought tickets for Rodrigo y Gabriella at the State Theatre. I was very psyched to see them because I’d seen some videos online and was super psyched to see their show live. I don’t know when they decided to add an opening act, but about three days ago it was announced that the opener would be Kishi Bashi (this show isn’t even mentioned on his websites tour dates, so it must have been very last minute). But whatever the reason, I nearly whooped ion my seat at work when I saw that he would be the opening act. And I told our friends Liz and Eleanor how excited I was because they were coming to see Rod y Gab with us as well
I’ve been a huge fan of Kishi Bashi’s since I first heard and then saw him on NPR. I was mesmerized by the way he looped his violin and did some beatboxing for drums and basically made a whole band all by himself on stage. I knew that he had been touring with a band this time around, but I was secretly hoping he do at least a few songs by himself.
And man alive was I not disappointed. At the strike of 8, Kishi came out on stage in a pink tuxedo jacket and bowtie. (I have no pictures from the show because I was observing the State Theatre’s no pictures policy, even though I appeared to be the only one observing it). He played some violin improv stuff and then launched into “It All Began with a Burst” a great opening track that allowed him to show off his looping, his voices, his beatboxing and his amazing singing voice. I was rapt from the get go.
He then played “Bittersweet Genesis for Him and Her” from his new album Lighght (named after the Adam Saroyan poem of the same name). This isn’t my favorite song from the new album (probably because it is much less soaring than his others), but I enjoyed the live version quite a lot. Then he went back to his older songs, playing “Atticus, in the Desert” (in New Jersey), which is one of my favorites off his debut.
I can’t find a set list online, so I’m note entirely sure what happened next, but I know he played “Bright Whites” (this version seemed a little short for what I think of as his “hit”). At the end of the song, he did some beatboxing and joked about how when he played solo like this he used to feel like he needed to throwing in some beatboxing just to show off. It was much admired even if it wasn’t needed.
He played “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize with It!” from his new album (and it was really amazing). And then he ended with “Manchester” which was uplifting and gorgeous and soaring and an amazing way to leave us wanting more.
It was tremendous to watch him build the songs from nothing, adding loops of his voice, or his violin, watching him jump around to different pedals, then twisting the knobs to change the pitch and have them all going at the same time while he played the violin (and sang at the same time). I had a bit of a hard time hearing him when he spoke between songs, but that’ sa minor complaint when the show was this good.
Even more fun was that he came to his merch booth after the show. His merch booth was manned by his wife (how cute is that), and while he took off his suit jacket, he was still looking sharp as I told him how great the show was. He autographed my 7″ single (all of them on very cool colored vinyl). I mentioned that “I am the Antichrist to You” is one of my favorite songs and he apologized that he didn’t have enough time to play it. Well, that’s okay, because everything else was amazing.
And Liz and Eleanor, who said they’d been having really bad luck with opening acts lately were simply blown away too. In fact, I’d have to say that there were maybe a dozen or so people in the audience who knew who he was before hand, but by the end of the show he had created a lot of converts. I’m basing this on the very positive hatter I heard and the amount of merch he sold. Good on ya, Mr Ishibashi. (I just learned that Ishibashi was a founding member of a band called Jupiter One, of whom I know nothing..so off to the internet I go).