Describing the night at Metro Music Hall with Kishi Bashi has been hard to do, but hard to do in the best way. The sold-out Kishi Bashi show was a masterpiece both sonically and visually. Lining the stage were large wood shaped grass patches and birds creating the illusion of an outdoor wooded show. A smoke-induced fog filled the room furthering this visual as ambient outdoor and cricket sounds played over the speakers. All of these creating an illusion of a misty mountain morning show. As the fog machine blew and birds singing audio played the crowd could be heard chanting “Ki-Shi Ba-Shi” repeatedly until him and his band took the stage.
The same enthusiasm the chanting crowd was showing carried throughout the entire evening. Kishi Bashi opened with ‘Marigolds’ from his newest album which began with the soft plucking of the violin in a pizzicato technique. The song was one of wonder, one that explores the harmony between humans and the universal empathy among different generations. Seeking to understand the experience of others in the song the singer exclaims “I wanna see the world the way you do, I want to fall off the edge with you, I want to fun with you” in this nostalgic single. As the night went on the crowd at Metro Music Hall did just that fell off the edge and were transported into this world he was creating with his music, it was fun, and one could even see the world as Kishi Bashi did with his love, empathy, and lyrics.
The second song ‘F Delano’ was also from Kishi Bashi’s new album Omoiyari. The album was dedicated to the remembrance of Japanese-American incarceration camps during WWII and how perceptions are shaped by experiences. ‘F Delano’ references the American President who ordered the internment of Japanese-American citizens. A theme that could easily come across confrontational the singer approaches with warmth, encouraging compassion and an open mind, stating that “the more you understand, the more you can grow as a person.” He laughed as the song concluded at how that is the most any crowd has ever danced during ‘F Delano.
Dancing didn’t stop, it only grew. Looking up on stage you could see the immense talent. Kishi Bashi treated the fans with the other exceptional musicians taking the stage with him. Pip the Pansy was electric on stage with enchanting flute solos from which she whipped her flute out of a pansy lined quiver as if she was the world’s greatest archer. Mike Savino aka Tall Tall Trees was a gift to the crowd with riveting work on the banjo, bass guitar, and upright bass. A highlight was Kishi Bashi and him having a “dittle” mid-stage with each of them playing their instruments trying to keep up with the other. Savino was even seen playing his banjo with a bow and it was mesmerizing. Ryan Oslance was seated at the drums and at any time you would see him dangling chains on the symbols, playing with drumsticks strung with bells, padded mallets, and brushes. Last but not least was the incredible work on guitar from Dave Kirslis. The combination played with such chemistry it was a true spectacle.
The talent didn’t stop there, a highlight from the night was when the opening band Takénobu accompanied him on stage. After beginning the night in the most beautiful way Takénobu left fans wanting more after their set, so all were excited to have them back. Nick Takenobu Ogawa took the stage with his cello next to his fiancé and bandmate Kathryn Koch who was exceptional on the violin. Kishi Bashi joked with the crowd at the fact that he used to be the best violinist in Kishi Bashi until Kathryn joined the tour. The band played one of the most beautiful renditions of his song ‘Violin Tsunami’.
Throughout the night the crowd was showered with praise of being the best audience on tour, and the crowd through the praise right back. It was a night of joy and energy. The atmosphere was very open, happy, and loving. I saw strangers dance together and become friends before the night was over. It was a special evening that was shared among strangers that could become friends because of the art of one Kishi Bashi and the creativity of his music and live show.