[LIVE REVIEW] Kishi Bashi @ Showbox
KISHI BASHI WITH GUEST PLUME GIANT | MAY 20TH, 2014 | SHOWBOX | SEATTLE
An ample slice of what makes a show is the enthusiasm of its audience. This was my first time at the legendary Showbox theatre in Seattle and I was somewhat dubious. After finally getting settled in a seat towards the back, I became anxious to discover what the night had in store. Unfortunately the opener, Plume Giant, was a little less than memorable. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought so as the room, abuzz, waited for Kishi Bashi to make their appearance.
Inevitably, full of smiles, they took the stage. That smile persisted on the face of Ishibashi as he made an exuberant return to Seattle and the Showbox stage where years ago he had opened for kaleidoscopic pop group Of Montreal. If you’ve not yet heard Kishi Bashi, you are in for a wonderful delight. Kishi Bashi, a pseudonym for front man Kaoru Ishibashi, is a unique and spirited talent whose playful pop sound is clearly magnified when experienced live. Apart from his magical violin abilities and crisp octave hopping vocals, Ishibashi’s most considerable gift is the joy he brings to the stage.
Performing a number of songs off their recently released sophomore album, Lighght, the group explores the dimensions of the reverberating color pop trend while utilizing their unique blend of electrified bluegrass strings. Alongside Ishibashi, the reformed group highlights the skills of bearded banjo slayer, Mike Savino of Tall Tall Trees, whose experimental display of unorthodox banjo mutilation is sure to impress. Somewhere within the frenzied beat boxing echoes of the encore set, the two put on an impressive display of theory craft, showcasing their improvisational chemistry.
My one criticism is the seemingly endless use of effects loops, which grew tiresome. The prevalence the loop pedal has made upon the current live music meta is overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a fantastic tool for performing songwriters with an ambition for achieving a larger, more fulfilling sound. Let us not forget about the once heavily criticized use of auto-tune that I’m sure everyone is familiar with. When over used, like anything, these tools begin to feel gimmicky, like a shortcut. It took the modern master of tastefulness, Justin Vernon, to show us that these tools are great for musical expression, but shaping sound requires a lesson or two in moderation. A lesson that I hope artists like Kishi Bashi would keep in mind as they continue to refine their sound.
Regardless, as the confetti settled late Tuesday night, the youthful Seattle crowd withdrew positively satisfied. For the Seattle born Ishibashi, his cheerful demeanor and carnival of pop violin seems to have built a sturdy following here in the Northwest. I was rather impressed by the Tuesday night turnout, which numbered roughly 1,600, all of whom were noticeably infected by Ishibashi’s laughter. The band is scheduled to return to Seattle for the Bumbershoot Festival, which is being held August 30th – September 1st.
Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!
Carry on Phenomenon
Atticus, In the Desert
Wonder Woman, Wonder Me
Hahaha Pt. 1
Hahaha Pt. 2
Beat the Bright Out of Me
Evalyn, Summer Has Arrived
Bittersweet Genesis For Him AND Her
I Am the Antichrist to You
The Ballad of Mr. Steak
It All Began With a Burst