On Tour: Kishi Bashi

So rich and complex, you find a dozen little spins—the vocals, the strings, the effects, the ambience—and each twist is that unique quality that reminds you of what a friend adores about their favorites.


There are those albums that, like the most compelling novel, from the first exposure, you cannot put down. You marvel and shake your head in disbelief at its greatness, beginning to end. You notice as soon as the first track restarts, but then can’t bear to stop it until you finish this one more song, and one more after that. Sometimes you just have to stop in your tracks and close your eyes, shutting out all other stimuli to make the space to take it all in.

Sonderlust is one of those albums, and you want to share it with everyone. So rich and complex, you find a dozen little spins—the vocals, the strings, the effects, the ambience—and each twist is that unique quality that reminds you of what a friend adores about their favorites. Plucking like Andrew Bird, sawing like jazz violinist Hugh Marsh. Electronic dance pulse in bright cascades like Animal Collective. Quirky, eight-bit accents like Stereo Total or something from the Katamari Damacy soundtrack (only one of the greatest games of all time). And the wall of sound anthems of Arcade Fire—but a minimalist, maximized, wall of sound. Because Kishi Bashi builds much of the wall’s framework with looping and layering like Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus or Emily Watts, including his self-described beatbox “cheating,” nailing each line once, capturing, and moving on to the next piece. This layering allows Kishi Bashi to gild the plaster with his virtuoso violin and falsetto vocals.

Try to imagine Beck doing “Have a Cigar” with a touch of Steely Dan, and you get “Who’d You Kill.” “Say Yeah” sounds like it could have featured in a recent, epic installment of KDHX’s The Big Bang, where Dr. Jeff played a solid three hours of captivating “yacht rock.” “Flame on Flame (a Slow Dirge)” puts at center stage the major life changes that sparked this creative outpouring, while the final track, “Honeybody,” ends on the cheeriest note, opening with high-speed munchkin sounds, piling on buzzy bass, and sprinkling with handclaps and hand-jive rhymes.

And this is saying nothing of Bashi’s equally stunning previous albums, which he has been shown to incredibly, faithfully reproduce onstage through intricate live sampling and an assemblage of backing bandmates, as in “Atticus in the Desert” or “Carry on Phenomenon.”

It’s not yet clear who will be in the touring band this go ’round, but possible configurations include the man and his strings and pedals, or Tall Tall Trees joining on banjo, or additional guitar and drums, or a chamber quartet. My personal favorite on the new album, the glorious “Ode to My Next Life,” sits somewhere glamorous between disco opera and action-movie soundtrack single, and I can’t imagine how he’ll reproduce this tidal wave of synthesized melodrama. But this is precisely the kind of sausage-making that you want to see. | Courtney Dowdall

Of equal mystery and intrigue is how the St. Louis venue, the newly opened Delmar Hall, will showcase his intricate sounds. At a capacity of 750, it is billed to fill the range between The Pageant and Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room, clocking in well beyond the Firebird’s size, which he has sold out in the past. Singer-songwriter-troubadour Twain opens; full tour dates are below:

09.27 | Athens, GA @ Georgia Theatre*
09.28 | Charlotte, NC @ Visulite*
09.30 | Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle*
10.01 | Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore – Silver Spring*
10.02 | New York, NY @ Webster Hall*
10.03 | Boston, MA @ Royale*
10.04 | Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer*
10.06 | Toronto, ON @ MOD Club*
10.08 | Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom & Tavern*
10.09 | Pontiac, MI @ Crofoot Ballroom*
10.10 | Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre*
10.11 | St. Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall*
10.12 | Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue*
10.14 | Omaha, NE @ Slowdown^
10.15 | Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre^
10.16 | Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge^
10.18 | Seattle, WA @ The Showbox^
10.19 | Vancouver, BC @ The Fox Cabaret^
10.20 | Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom^
10.21 | San Francisco, CA @ The Masonic^
10.22 | Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst Atrium^
10.23 | San Diego, CA @ Irenic^
10.24 | Los Angeles, CA @ The Belasco Theater^
10.26 | Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress+
10.28 | San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger+
10.29 | Austin, TX @ Mohawk+
10.30 | Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall+
11.01 | New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks+
11.02 | Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse+

* w/Twain ^ w/Busman’s Holiday + w/Laura Gibson

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply