[ATTENDED: October 4, 2016] Kishi Bashi
This is our third time seeing Kishi Bashi, and our second time seeing him with our friends Liz and Eleanor. We all saw him together the first time when he opened for Rodrigo y Gabriela. And they were hooked just like we were. They have since seen him with his string quartet, which we didn’t. I’ve liked him so much solo that I didn’t know if I wanted to see others playing with him. Well, Tuesday’s show was a full band and it was phenomenal.
He is an amazing solo performer with his loops and improv and his fantastic stage presence. But when he has other people to play off of, he completely soars. And, since he was the headliner, he added a great light show (and confetti!). And it also mean that even though we had heard these songs live before, in this setting they were completely reworked and different.
Kishi Bashi’s newest album is the disco-infused Sonderlust in which he more or less switches from his signature violin to keyboards. But the music, while quite different from his earlier records is still very Kishi Bashi–that voice and those melodies are unmistakable.
His band includes Tall Tall Trees (Mike Savino) on bass and banjotron. This was my first time seeing the banjotron, which is an amazing instrument. In addition to being a banjo, it’s hooked up to a bunch of things so he gets pretty-near guitar sounds out of it as well as other cool effects. It has also got lights in the body which blinks and twirl. And he hits the body with a mallet for percussive playing (as well as doing a hand drum solo in the middle of one of the songs). There was also a guitarist/keyboardist/flutist whose name I missed, a cellist who was new to the touring unit and a drummer who really brought the house down with his playing,
I was saying to Sarah how nice it must be to have just three albums when you headline because he was able to play at least half of the first two and most of the new album in his 18 song set.
They opened with three songs from Sonderlust (and asked if it was okay that they were playing new stuff. Which it most definitely was). “M’lover” in particular sounded amazing. And the lights were brilliant.
“Atticus, in the Desert” is a song we’ve heard twice now, but it could not have been more different with the band. The song had dramatic pauses and a jam section (including Tall Tall Tree’s “drum” solo) and big bursts of music and lights. It was fantastic. He stayed with some old songs, playing “Carry On, Phenomenon,” which the crowd was totally into and we all sang along to. And then a spectacular version of “Bright Whites” which the crowd was practically pogoing to. “Whites” also included a flute solo from the guitarist. Kishi said he learned the flute solo just for this tour, to which Tall Tall Trees said “showoff.” He also experimented with a lot of beatboxing and then paused to ask if he was scaring us.
Then he jumped back into three more songs from Sonderlust. For most of these songs he sat at the keyboard flanked by the guitar and bass/banjo. The soaring “Say Yeah” was so perfectly disco and the way “Ode to My Next Life” burst forth with its amazing 1970s-soundtrack opening was just spectacular.
The band left for him to do a solo version of “I am the Antichrist” (which technically wasn’t solo because the cellist played along). It was really great to hear him play a song solo–his looping violins were just as good as always. He layered multiple solos and even had them loop while he sang unaccompanied. It was an especially great version of the song.
Things got super fun when he played “Mr. Steak” and brought out a special guest–a Mr Steak mascot who danced on stage. And midway through the song, he crowd surfed out right near us to grab a steak-colored violin which he then played and surfed back to the stage.
When he opened for Guster he crowd surfed and I was able to support him briefly. For this one he was just out of reach and my picture was terribly blurry, but I know there’s a video of him surfing and Sarah and I are right there.
He ended the set with a roaring version of “Philosophize with It” and the song Sarah really wanted to hear “It All Began with a Burst.” Before this song, he told us all to vote and said that he wasn’t going to preach but that he wasn’t voting for the guy whose named rhymed with Chump. And then, just to send it home, for his high-pitched voice section he chanted “Don’t. Vote. For. Trump.” and then looped and sped it up as a great backing “voice” The whole song was so much fun and quite different from the album without really changing the general sense of the song.
For the encore they came out and did an acoustic set of three songs. The delightful “Honeybody” (with banjo and ukulele) sounded perfect in this setting. For the final two songs, K. switched to guitar. “Q&A” which we had seen him play last time sounded so different with gorgeous harmonies and the gentle sounds of the acoustic band. And he ended with a stunning version of “Manchester” that grew louder by the end until it softly concluded.
Man whats a great show.
When we saw him at the State Theatre with Rod y Gab, he was selling his own merch out front. I got to meet him and chat and he signed some swag. These days you have to buy a VIP ticket to get that. So I’m pretty pleased that his star is rising. There’s no way I’ll be getting a picture from this close next time we see him.
I’m still unclear why hit took them so long to get on stage after the opener (it was nearly 40 minutes and Twain just had 2 guitars which he took off with him). It would have been nice to get home a little earlier, but hey, that’s the rock n roll lifestyle, right?
Setlist hasn’t updated our show, but this is the setlist from his previous night in Boston which was largely the same, but for at least one change
- Stranger Things theme (intro music)
Statues in a Gallery
Hey Big Star
Atticus, in the Desert
Carry on Phenomenon
Who’d You Kill
Can’t Let Go, Juno
Ode to My Next Life
I Am the Antichrist to You (solo)
The Ballad of Mr. Steak
Philosophize in It! Chemicalize with It!
It All Began With a Burst