Shows I Go To: Kishi Bashi and Tall Tall Trees begin with a burst at the Social
Perhaps the tone for my evening was set because I learned about the effects of and listened to music played at 432 Hz prior to leaving the house, or maybe it was that sweet free cab ride from Lyft, but when I departed the Kishi Bashi show Saturday night, I couldn’t help but sing the chorus of “Everything Is Awesome” by Tegan and Sara from the soundtrack to The Lego Movie at the top of my lungs internally.
North Florida natives Sunbears! opened the show providing a psychedelic entrance to the temporary state of euphoria. They just premiered a new single titled “Now You’re Gone” on Stereogum and are being featured on the Flaming Lips’ forthcoming Sgt. Pepper Tribute album performing on the song “Being For the Benefit Of Mr. Kite!”
A drum stick. A beard. A banjo. That’s just an introduction to Tall Tall Trees, a solo project featuring Mike Savino. One of the most whispered-about facts of the evening was that his banjo lit up! The second-most was the fact that he was playing his banjo strings with a drumstick half the time. He also used his hands to play beats on his drum-like banjo head quite a bit while the audience used their own hands to clap along. Here’s a shitty video:
The Ron Burgundy sample of “I love scotch” during the Tall Tall Trees set received a warm response from the mildly intoxicated audience. Much like Kishi Bashi, Tall Tall Trees produces loop tracks, assembling and deconstructing songs piece by piece while singing melodies through his beard. They’re both multi-instrumentalists and manage the feat by only using one tangible instrument each.
Tall Tall Trees played an attention grabber called “Waiting on the Day,” then finished his solo set before returning to the stage, accompanying Kishi Bashi throughout his performance.
When Kishi Bashi began, it was like watching a time lapse video of a red rose bush bursting into life. First the soil and the seed, then the rain, followed by the calm and the quiet before suddenly breaching the soil up towards the sun. The beauty of the bright green plant life contrasting against the black dirt was merely the beginning of a beautiful evening unfolding. Here’s a shitty pic:
Kishi Bashi and his band took the stage to a near sold-out room. Slowly, thorns began to appear and the stems grew thicker. The crowd swooned and danced to the heavier layers Kishi Bashi crafted and anatomized. His violin playing was ubiquitous as he used this single instrument and an array of pedals to build and disassemble the core layers of his eclectic tunes. At times, you wouldn’t have thought it possible that all of those sounds could come from a single violin. Over the multilayers and loops, he mashed in ranging vocals and displayed impressive beatboxing skills.
During “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!,” the energy was high and feet were moving. He spent about an hour on stage with his band before bringing it down, playing a few songs solo. The sharp green flowery leaves surrounding the soon to be bloomed roses began to open, revealing dense red buds. Slowly each individual petal showed itself, one by one, until a beautiful, fully blossomed rose danced in the sunlight. That rose was Kishi Bashi. Every bit of it.
Kishi played two of my favorites by himself: “I Am the Antichrist to You” and “Manchester.” There’s a beautiful video of him performing the “Antichrist” song in a lovely park – it’s almost entirely in falsetto. “I haven’t felt this alive in a long time” he sang during “Manchester.” I couldn’t have agreed more. I looked around me and noticed all the eyes that were “kragled” to him, possibly thinking the same thing.
After his solo songs, Kishi Bashi left the stage. The crowd and I adhered to the well-known ritual where we all cheer for a few minutes until the band comes back out. Kishi Bashi and Co. came back out and performed “one of the most popular songs in Japan right now,” “The Ballad of Mr. Steak” and I got this sweet pic of a guy wearing a “Mr. Steak” lyric shirt. My favorite verse begins: “Mr. Steak, he’s such a bachelor at heart. He’d never met another cut that likes to booty booty shaky shake. Do you believe that a steak couldn’t love?”
They continued with a Paul McCartney (Wings) cover of “Live And Let Die,” as well as a Led Zeppelin cover of “Whole Lotta Love.” However, Kishi Bashi did not sing lead on the latter; the bass player actually took the reins. Between all the surprised “WTF” looks on the faces around me, it became quite clear that his Robert Plant impression was impressive to say the least. Kishi Bashi closed his set with “It All Began With a Burst,” and the pit erupted, bouncing around singing the upbeat falsettos back at him. I caught a little bit on the Show I Go To Instagram.
Throughout his blooming performance, Kishi Bashi was effectively and continuously blowing minds at the Social. I see Kishi Bashi as an intelligent perfectionist who elegantly displays how limitless the musical possibilities of a single instrument can be.
(If you really wanna feel awesome, you can opt for the 10-hour version of “Everything Is Awesome” which I like to cleverly call “10 hours of awesome.”)
Mitch Foster runs an Orlando music blog, Shows I Go To, where he documents the shit out of his favorite aspects of the local music scene.