Kishi Bashi – real name K Ishibashi – is best known as the violinist behind Regina Spektor, of Montreal, and Sondre Lerche. In his solo work, you’ve heard him musically making your gadgets seem cultured yet quirky. However, anyone who has witnessed his impressively captivating live show will tell you: no recording, much less 30-second ad, can accurately represent his performance.
Lyricist Mike Savino, performing solo as Tall Tall Trees, opened for Kishi Bashi on the sold-out first stop of their west coast tour at The Crocodile in Seattle. Savino used the same pedal tricks as Ishibashi to conjure a full sound from his light-up banjo, rigging it at one point to produce a creepy organ waltz about Ferris wheels from his four-string. Ishibashi joined him on stage to fiddle up Savino’s Punjabi MC-tinged single “Waiting on the Day,” while Savino returned the favor for Ishibashi’s whole set.
Bathed in enough smoke for a Reignwolf show and backed by scenery that reflected his yen garden sound, Ishibashi started his headlining slot fittingly with the atmospheric “Intro/Pathos, Pathos” and then melded seamlessly into the first clap-along of the night, “Atticus, in the Desert.” The combining of two songs with psychedelic pedal use or Suzuki-Method shred-jams would be the theme of the night, rarely featuring any songs alone. In one case, “Evalyn, Summer Has Arrived” transitioned into “Wonder Woman, Wonder Me,” where the lyrics “when Pluto was demoted” were met with cheers and more synchronized handclapping:
When Pluto was demoted,
I felt a sigh of relief…I never knew why
Like all the things in The Quickening
We share the fallen few
‘There can be only one’
Ishibashi regularly relied on the surprisingly rhythmic crowd for percussion while forming his loops, heeding his warning “don’t speed up – if you do, we’re fucked.” On his “song of regret,” “Conversations at the End of the World,” the line “Please tell your mother” elicited the biggest lyric-based uproar of the night. While a cover of Enya’s “Sail Away” transitioned into “Bright Whites” through a Savino-led bluegrass romp. And some crowd-pleasing beatboxing, as well as frequent chipmunk-sounding vocal from double-speed loops, reminded of Reggie Watts and Bobby McFerrin just as much as the comparable Andrew Bird.
An ideal stop for the Seattle native, the overtly-doting Crocodile crowd knew how to absorb Ishibashi’s stripped-down sound. However, in typical Northwest fashion, the loving revelers also showed an absolute allergy to any form of dancing on the songs that explicitly asked for it, such as the bouncy closer “It All Began with a Burst.”
Still, Ishibashi knew how to give the PBR-wielding rain-troverts what they want in the form of a shoegazey swell to finish “Bright Whites,” as well as humble banter – “My sister-in-law is going to put me in an anime. I’ve always wanted to be in anime. That’s why I got this hair.” His “soundscapes,” produced by the single most classic instrument, paired with lyrical themes of love and nostalgia to make even the coldest cynic feel either like a kid or the hero of an epic RPG, as witnessed on “Manchester:”
Will you be mine?
I haven’t felt this alive in a long time
All the streets are warm today
Just don’t ask that inner child to dance in Seattle.