Singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist –Kaoru Ishibashi, better known as Kishi Bashi, played to a loyal NY fan base and easily sold out the Music Hall of Williamsburg on April 23rd.
Originally from Seattle, Washington and currently residing in Athens, GA– Kishi actually spent much time as a New Yorker, back in 2003, while forming the indie-rock band Jupiter One. He, therefore, knew how to excite the Big Apple fans using his many musical talents and the songs from his latest release Sonderlust
Taking the stage after his longtime friend Mike Savino’s band, Tall Tall Trees, played a most non-traditional banjo set, Kishi Bashi began the evening with a few acoustic numbers–which he was inspired to do after ending previous shows with just string instruments. Playing the violin, he was joined on stage by Savino playing standup bass and Daniel Brunner on guitar. Starting the evening off with the jumping “Bright Whites”, a fast-moving string arrangement that had all of us on our feet, then followed by another number from his debut album 151a, “Beat the Bright Out of Me”—which further exposed Kishi’s string arranging talents. The last number of the acoustic set, which followed the simple love song “Q&A”, was “Wonder Woman, Wonder Me”, showing off Ishibashi’s vocal harmonies as the audience provided finger-snapping musical support.
Kicking off the electric set with “Statues in a Gallery”, a track from the latest album, and originally called “One Day We Will Be Statues In A Gallery” –a bit long for the album sleeve– the song tells a story of an epic love so legendary that the lovers turn up in a future museum as statues. Whether it happens or not, one thing is clear; you will fall in love with this song because it is simply genius and extraordinary! Piecing together the band on stage, we now hear the driving drumming of Seth Hendershot as the song soars. Building on the upbeat tempo was then dance-inspired “Carry On Phenomenon”.
Before the show was halfway through, we clearly saw Kishi exhibit his multi-talents on vocals, violin, keyboards, and bass guitar. While not outdoing the other members, who also rotated between playing bass, keyboards–adding in the banjo, flute, and the melody horn, the exceptional musical skills of all were on full display.
The performance was full of non-stop exhilaration and even laughter, as Kishi danced around the stage– singing and moving the audience to join him in unison to the rhythm, all as confetti rained down upon us. Kishi’s sense of humor also got us going, as he joked around between songs- entertaining us with a dancing steak during “The Ballad of Mr. Steak”, which followed a fun, cheerful version of the Styx cover “Come Sail Away”.
The band closed out the set for the evening with a fitting “It All Began With A Burst”, from the 151a album. The song includes the lyrics, “kesa ka ni sasareta”, and the sound (“chiku”). Simply translated from Japanese into English, it means “this morning I was bitten by a mosquito”, and (“chiku”), is the sound of the bug biting you. Fitting because after witnessing Kishi Bashi, you will no doubt be bitten by the Bashi music bug!
The encore took place, not on the stage, that would have been too conventional for such an unconventional ensemble, but rather in the center of the audience. Surrounded closely by his friends and music lovers, the band acoustically played “Atticus, in the Desert”, which was then followed by “Manchester”.
Kishi Bashi clearly ensures fans leave his shows feeling as if they are part of his musical family– not only through his breathtaking music but through the intimate, engaging performances that he magically delivers to enthusiasts all around the globe.