[ATTENDED: October 4, 2016] Twain
Kishi Bashi has been an opening act for two great bands that I’ve seen. So I was really curious to see who his opening act would be. I’d looked up Twain online but all I got from the brief glimpse was that it was a duo from Brooklyn.
When we got to the venue, there were some big drums and keyboards around the stage and I thought maybe they belonged to Twain.
Well, indeed, they did not, for in this show Twain was just one guy and his guitar (actually two guitars).
And his first song was very disconcerting. Lyrically, Twain seems to come from the state-everything-I-see school of lyrics. He mixes this with a hippy world view and a pretty big obsession with death. And his delivery is stark and sharp and, yes, pretty unpleasant.
The problem I found right from the start was that although his guitar playing was interesting (and uncomfortable to watch as he is kind of a lurcher), his vocals were hard to listen to–a kind of uncomfortable pitch and tone that often ascended into a shout. This might have worked if there was more music to blend in with, but it was just him and the guitar and was just too exposed. Couple this with the fact that his lyrics were so earnest that when presented so baldly, they came off as silly.
Like this chorus which I had to write down:
When I wake up, I go to the refrigerator. Cold water in the morning makes me feel so good. And you know I love that feeling. Almost as much. As I love you.
Kind of funny, right, but also painfully earnest.
One of the final songs he sang was an interesting look at bisexuality and how one isn’t born knowing a gender, that “they” have to tell you what you are. An interesting lyric for a song, but the delivery wasn’t very compelling.
As it turns out, I looked up Twain on bandcamp. His recorded output is more full, with extra musicians and more complex arrangements. His voice is still harsh, but not quite as harsh when smoothly produced.
The biggest problem I had with his set (although he did seem to have many fans there) was that he was allotted nearly 50 minutes, which was way too long for his stuff. And the fat that it took Kishi Bashi nearly 40 more minutes to go on (when all they had to do was clear off his guitar and his hat–which you can see he took off) made me dislike his set even more.
Fortunately Kishi Bashi more than made up for it.