There are performances that are good, some are great, and then there are the transcendent ones that leaves you a little different than when you came in. Kaoru Ishibashi (who performs under the name Kishi Bashi) created an experience that is both musically and visually compelling — moving the audience to feel like a part of what was going on there on the stage — as was the case of Friday night’s performance within the crowded walls of the Lincoln Theatre.
As a testament to his background studying film scores and touring with the likes of of Montreal the night unfolded like a an imaginative story complete with a stage that resembled a marshy field complete with a huge crane peeking its head through the tall grass.
As Kishi Bashi has been doing throughout this tour for his most recently album, Omoiyari — a word that he explained to the audience means like a compassion that comes out of empathy for others — the band started with a bang, playing “Marigolds” from the new album as Kishi Bashi took the stage first with violin in hand, creating, at first, lines of strings by creating loops as the rest of the band quickly joined in.
This set the stage (no pun intended) for a beautiful performance that ebbed and flowed from the sublime (the starkly lit solo performance of “Theme from Jerome”) to the danceable (try not to watch “Carry On Phenomenon” and not wave your hands back and forth while Kishi Bashi jumps up and down in front of you!).
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Along with Mike Savino (who performs under the moniker Tall Tall Trees) on bass and banjo, Ryan Oslance on drums, Pip the Pansy on flute, and Dave Kirslis and Andrea DeMarcus on guitar and contrabass respectively who also opened the show as Cicada Rhythm, Kishi Bashi brought a huge sound to this theater. Even when the rest of the band left the stage and Kishi Bashi was there alone with his violin to perform “Theme from Jerome,” “I Am the Antichrist to You,” and a brilliantly lush version of the Talking Heads classic, “This Must Be The Place,” the sounds produced moved more than a few in this crowded theater to tears.
Bringing Mike out, the duo of Kishi Bashi and Tall Tall Trees performed a brilliant set of tunes with the duo playing off each other through “Bright Whites” on violin and banjo.
As the band came back together for the second half, Kishi Bashi noted to the crowd that his parents were there watching the performance to a big applause.
And as saving the best for last, with a giant “Mr Steak” joining the band for the end just before the encore to dance around and perform “The Ballad of Mr Steak” and “It All Began With a Burst.”
For the encore, Kishi Bashi, Pip the Pansy, and Tall Tall Trees came out into the audience lit to perform a special acoustic set of “Annie, Heart of the Sea,” “Manchester,” and “Summer of ’42.” It was for me and this theater one of the best performances we’ve seen. And as a personal note, after waking up the next morning, I had shown my daughter who just started playing violin some of the photos and video from that night and I could see the immediate connection as she walked over to her own case and took out her own instrument, excited to show off what she can do.
Here are some photos of Kishi Bashi performing at the Lincoln Theatre on Nov. 8, 2019. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.