Kishi Bashi | 02.15.13

DSC 4773_75I have never been so glad to have a spot right at the stage.


with Plume Giant and Ross Christopher
Firebird, St. Louis

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Ross Christopher

Local musician Ross Christopher was the perfect choice for opening act of the evening. Christopher, an accomplished guitarist, also used electric violin and looping to create a textured sound, which evoked a bit of a Wild, Wild West feel. He was also very charming about hawking his wares, which included a selection of “sexy, men’s vintage ties.” His live show was fantastic and it’s no wonder he’s opening for the likes of Kishi Bashi, Guster, and The Black Crowes. If you get the chance to see him around town, do it!

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Plume Giant group shot

Brooklyn’s Plume Giant brought a vintage touch to the evening—literally, with the inclusion of a harmonium, and figuratively, with some tunes that would be at home in the dance halls of old. The group’s strength really lies in their harmonies, and I especially loved a couple of their newer ballads, one of which had just been written a few days previous to the show while they were in Chicago.

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Oliver Hill of Plume Giant

Multi-instrumentalist Oliver Hill of Plume Giant

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Kishi Bashi – full band shot

First things first: Kishi Bashi is crazy about the fog machine. The fog, in addition to some fantastic modern, faux bois patterned trees constructed from 2×4’s, made the stage a perfect complement for Kishi Bashi’s other-worldly, thoroughly fresh indie-pop, which still pays homage to classical technique and composition. It’s somehow high-tech and modern, classical and tribal all at once. If someone out there is doing what K. Ishibashi is doing, I welcome the correction, but I know of no one who’s using looping with violin to this level of expertise. I have never been so glad to have a spot right at the stage. Watching him conjure magic with pedals and knobs, his voice and a bow in hand coaxing pure beauty out of the violin, is something I will never forget.

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Joining Kishi Bashi on this tour is the wildly talented Mike Savino of Tall, Tall Trees. Holy moly, that man means business with a banjo! Put Ishibashi and Savino on a stage together and you can practically feel planets aligning in far off universes while they play. Intense is not even the word.

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Kishi Bashi is a play on his name Kaoru (or K.) Ishibashi.

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Rounding out his support for the tour is the effervescent Elizabeth Ziman of Elizabeth and the Catapult. She’s a damn fine keyboardist and vocalist, and after the show I kind of ran, not walked, to Spotify to check out her original music which is catchy and as bubbly as its creator. Speaking of bubbles, the band learned a lesson with a bubble machine they tried to put behind Ishibashi; Bubble slime + dancing = not good. Who knew bubbles could be so threatening?

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Most of the songs of the evening were off of the new release 151a, which I had the chance to talk about with Ishibashi during an interview, which you can read here. His set included favorites like “Evalyn, Summer Has Arrived,” “Bright Whites,” “Manchester,” as well as the hilarious and completely work inappropriate, YouTube-able “Just the Tip,” which he says he is much more inclined to perform during the weekend. Thank God the show here was on a Saturday because I was cry-laughing during the whole song.

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I have to end by reiterating what a thoroughly unique experience this was. All of Ishibashi is an instrument. I do believe if he could find a bow for the job, he’d play his mohawk and it would probably sound like an angel’s harp.

Photographs by Inocencio Boc; commentary by Janet Rhoads.

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