By Kirsten Becker
Kirsten’s review of one of our recommended concerts for fall 2013.
I was extremely excited to get a chance to catch Kishi Bashi at the First Unitarian Church on September 14. This was his second show he’s played at the Church, last year playing in the basement, this time playing in the sanctuary upstairs. I have seen him perform before, just a few months ago at Firefly Festival. I was blown away by his performance and I knew right away his Philadelphia show was one not to miss.
One of the opening acts was Elizabeth and the Catapult. Never hearing of them before, I was unsure of what I was about to see. The band, comprised of Elizabeth Ziman on vocals and keys, Danny Molad on drums, and Peter Lalish on guitar; was a mix of poppy rock comparable to Rilo Kiley, loungey vocals of Lana Del Rey mixed with heavy jazz influences. Elizabeth opened up with a solo version of “Thank You For Nothing.” She stood on stage with a keyboard and sparse lighting. The song captivated the entire room and it was the perfect first song to open the set with. After loud cheers, the set picked up intensity. Mike Savino of Tall Tall Trees came on stage a few times to collaborate with the band as well. Towards the end, Elizabeth and the Catapult played a moving cover of Dawes’s “When My Time Comes,” to which Elizabeth prefaced the cover by saying Dawes has been one of her favorite bands. She also played accordion and various other instruments throughout the rest of the set. After the surprise standout performance of Elizabeth and the Catapult, it was now time for Kishi Bashi. He announced that the show that night would be their last one for a few days, and that he wanted to play for as long as possible–a goal he fulfilled, ending his set well after midnight. Three new songs were debuted from his upcoming album that is scheduled for release next spring, including a personal favorite “Mister Steak.”
Seeing Kishi Bashi is an experience, some parts of the show seem like they don’t make sense, but he knows exactly what he’s doing. As a classically trained violinist, it is clear his early training in music is still very much part of his work. He played long solos, looping parts over and over until it sounded like an entire orchestra was filling the church. He recorded his voice, either singing pitches or beatboxing over the violins. Then, catching everyone off guard, he would double or half the speed of the loops creating an entirely different sound. Tall Tall Trees, a frequent collaborator with Kishi Bashi, again joined the stage to play more songs with his lightup banjo.
Taking a break before “I Am the Antichrist to You,” Kishi Bashi made some jokes about singing about an Antichrist in a church. He also took the time to express his gratitude for the Philadelphia crowd and how much he really does enjoy coming to this city. He finished his set with a highlight from his debut 151a: “Manchester.” The place lit up with cheers for an encore and after less than a minute he was back on stage. He promised to play one more song, “Bright Whites,” which was soon followed by a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” with the bassist on vocals and Tall Tall Trees on banjo again. Kishi Bashi jumped into the crowd while the song played and crowd surfed, videotaping the whole thing on his phone.
Getting to see Kishi Bashi is never a disappointment. He is an incredibly talented musician and an amazing performer with amazing energy. Be sure to download 151a and be on the lookout for new material from him in 2014!