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Concert Review: Kishi Bashi

A memorable night with a warped violinist celebrating steak
Kishi Bashi
Kishi Bashi

Kishi Bashi headlined a triple bill at the Bush Hall on the 17th October 2014 and it was one of the best nights of live music I’d been to in some time. The sheer level of instrumentation skills – and the voice too – were something to behold, even if some of the crowd didn’t seem to pay the respect due.

Opening with TallTallTrees, the man simply has amazing banjo skills. He bashes, plays, shouts at and smashes the thing to smithereens and it’s amazing. He even passes around a remote control in the crowd so the crowd can play with the lights inside the banjo – interactivity right there. His ability to ebb and flow over a track and then utterly rip its throat out by electrifying loops of twangs really caught my attention – I’ll be following up more of his work.

Following were Beaty Hearts, a London band whose penchant for a percussive flow and few random sound samples set them apart from the general rock genre. They were clearly enjoying themselves and although they aren’t my usual rock band type, they played flawlessly and won me over with their enthusiasm and ability to build up a song without feeling rushed and it not feeling drawn out, the latter always being a fine line. I am interested in hearing how they translate to a studio recording and how all the different sample layers are worked into a rock group.

Then Kishi Bashi, who was watching the openers on the side of the stage took to it and absolutely floored me. His violin skills, looping abilities and the power in his amazing vocal range really took me by surprise. By having a band with him, older tracks like Atticus In the Dessert became an epic Eastern trek from dune to dune and Bright Whites became a magical Irish jig of sorts. The energy Kishi Bashi poured out was immense and it really hit home with tracks like “The Ballad of Mr Steak” and my personal favourites of the evening “Ha Ha Part 1” and “Ha Ha Part 2” which felt anthemic. When things were quieter towards the end and Kishi Bashi’s band faded away his emotional versions of “Manchester” and “I Am The Antichrist To You” showed that he could melt your heart with the best of them too.

Which leads me to the only annoyance of the evening – the crowd outside. Inside and upfront the crowd were respectful, cheering, dancing (well as much as us Brit’s do) and having a blast. Outside in the bar it seemed like people couldn’t talk louder if they tried and some of the crowd near me kept looking back as if to say shut up. In the end Kishi Bashi did tell them to – several times – and politely. All they did was miss out on what was frankly a remarkable experience – seeing him live is a revelation and I’d urge anyone who enjoys good indie pop rock music to go now.

Although there’s no live clips from the evening I’ve popped a live clip below of Manchester from a session elsewhere

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