Kishi Bashi's layering lends his project the utmost musical synergy. Photo: Shervin Lainez
Kishi Bashi is better known for his work with Jupiter One and of Montreal, but has made a name for himself as an incomparable one-man act in a very short amount of time. Currently touring with Tall Tall Trees as his live band in support of his first solo album, 151a, Kishi Bashi brought an incredible amount of positive energy and bright, smiling faces to Kilby.
I must have sunk into a hole or all the tall people in Salt Lake came to Kilby because all I can see of the stage are the tops of odd, wooden props that resemble saw horses—I later find out that Kishi Bashi’s tour manager made them, which is pretty cool, although they seem cumbersome for the performers to navigate around. Huddled together on the stage are the three members of Brooklyn-based Plume Giant, a folk trio with remarkable three-part harmonies and improvisation. Two songs into their set, they break a string and joke about a “three-part harmony turning into a two-part harmony and a guitar turning into a piano.” They flawlessly manage the hiccup and go on to play some new songs that sound really together for being new, and a cover of “Love Me Tender”sung by the only female member of the group, Eliza Bagg.
Kishi Bashi sets up quick and comes onstage with a huge, warm smile and immediately begins looping his voice and violin. The mood in the room instantly changes from chaotic scrambling around to still silence as everyone watches the small garage get engulfed in a blue fog as Bashi layers violin, vocals and beat boxing, and captures the entire audience. I can only see three people onstage, but somehow, it feels like there’s an entire orchestra pit hiding somewhere. I climb onto a chair to see over the sold-out crowd as the intro fades into “Pathos, Pathos.” Bashi then goes into “Atticus In The Desert,” a sweet song with intricate looped effects that require a lot of footwork and navigating through all the effects pedals under his feet. The next song, “Evalyn, Summer Has Arrived,” differs greatly from the studio version on the Room For Dream EP, introducing an electric banjo into the mix courtesy of Tall Tall Trees’ Mike Savino.
The mood in the room takes a dark turn during “Conversations at the End of the World,” which Bashi prefaces with the story behind the song—it being based on a dream he had about dying and all of the regrets he has. The entire room is silent and solemn and concentrating on the lyrics, “Sorry about the bloodb” and “If you have the heart to take my life away, give me something” stand out to me. As he introduces his complicated love song, “I Am The Anti-Christ To You,” it occurs to me that most of his songs have dark themes but upbeat music. The sound at Kilby is like nothing I’ve heard in Salt Lake for a while, and Bashi keeps thanking Jonathan the sound guy between songs for a remarkable job. Bashi introduces a new song, “Philosophize In It, Chemicalize with it,” based on a 30-second hook he wrote for a commercial in Japan that took off, requiring him to write the rest of the song around the short hook, his response to the request being “oh, shit.” Bashi gets the whole room clapping to the beat, and the smiles on everyone’s faces are incredible, emitting pure joy.
Bashi ends the show with “It all Began with a Burst” and is convinced to play an encore as I’m heading out the door with my mind blown from the amazing sound quality and sheer joy that filled Kilby.