While Tall Tall Trees delighted the audience with his electric five-stringed banjo grooving tunes, Kishi Bashi (aka K Ishibashi) appeared here and there incognito in the crowd, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.
But when he took the stage, to a lively and eager crowd, Ishibashi was outfitted in a tuxedo jacket complete with a striped bow tie, a white shirt and a black ostrich feather tucked in his pocket. His attire contrasted his music as he opened his set with "Turn Up the Radio. "I'm glad it was a casual affair," he sang, though he appeared anything but casual. The song is by Jupiter One, a New York indie band to which he also belongs.
The audience, packed in on the floor and upper level of Off Broadway, shouted out its appreciation. Kishi Bashi, who has also toured with of Montreal and Regina Spektor, must have also become increasingly enamored with the crowd as the show progressed. By the end of his fourth song, he was impressed by the audience's clapping work during "Wonder Woman, Wonder Me" and joked, "You guys are in the band now."
Watching Ishibashi perform onstage is pleasurably unnerving. It's easy to follow him at first, as he makes his first round of loops, whether it be violins, vocals or hums. But as the loops begin to intermix and create a school of sound, it becomes difficult to distinguish when Kishi Bashi is looping or simply playing. It's mystifying to see him on stage, in every sense of the word.
When he plays on stage, every sound counts. That's why the performer had to politely pause during "It All Began With a Burst." The reason? Too much clapping. "I really hate to put this on you guys, but you gotta stop clapping; I can't concentrate!" he joked apologetically. "Let me make you a good beat," he said. "You guys are musicians, I get it," he laughed with the audience as he started up the song again.
Tall Tall Trees accompanied Ishibashi for most of his set, which added an additional sonic dimension. It was hard to differentiate between various responses from the crowd; during some quieter parts of songs, audience members would yelp and whoop to see if they might get picked up in a loop. And that is part of the reason the headliner said he liked St. Louis so much. "You guys know how to have a good time," he exclaimed.
Though there were many bright moments during the set, the atmosphere went from buzzing to purely electric when the introductory notes of "Bright Whites" made the audience erupt with shouts and claps. Ishibashi played and plucked his violin, looping those sounds, and added vocals time and times over until the song was complete to play on its own.
At the last song's end, it was clear that the audience wanted Kishi Bashi to waste no time in playing in St. Louis again, when someone from the audience yelled, "You should come back after this song!"
And Kishi Bashi did exactly that, with a two-song encore before he left stage to "hang out with you guys."
Turn Up The Radio
Atticus, In The Desert
Wonder Woman, Wonder Me
Evelyn, Summer Has Arrived
Beat the Bright Out of Me
Conversations At the End of the World
It All Began With a Burst
I Am the Antichrist to You
A Sunday Smile
??? (hip-hop cover)