Kishi Bashi Provides a Jolt to the Senses at The Bowery Ballroom

June 5th, 2014

Kishi Bashi – The Bowery Ballroom – June 4, 2014

Spirits were high at The Bowery Ballroom as last night’s bill consisted of the supremely talented Kishi Bashi and rollicking supporters Buried Beds—each band worthy of the sold-out crowd’s exuberance. Buried Beds quickly proved their worth, crafting lush, orchestral music with a light-pop sheen. “Stars” and “1000 Acres,” off their most recent album, In Spirit, stood out as crowd favorites.

As the lights dimmed, the audience drew closer to the fog-shrouded stage, anticipating a dramatic performance. And clad in a dapper outfit complete with one of his signature bowties, K. Ishibashi and his band wasted no time in setting their trademark looping into motion. At the start, he beckoned everyone to clap along to a superpowered rendition of “Philosophize in It! Chemicalize with It,” and as the band kicked each successive song into top gear to a dizzying effect, the crowd kept on clapping throughout the night. Casual stage banter punctuated the performance, as did darting projections and a surprise performance by local contortionist-dancer Amazing Amy.

A masterful lyricist, Kishi Bashi seems to embody every word he sings, from the eerie words of “Beat the Bright Out of Me” to the whimsical verses of “The Ballad of Mr. Steak” to the introspective colloquy of “Bittersweet Genesis for Him and Her.” Kishi Bashi established a tradition of delayed gratification for the audience, playing hefty, largely improvised introductions and then launching full throttle into each song. The whole performance was a jolt to the senses, climbing quickly and deftly to quite a few poignant emotional precipices. The encore, complete with a cover of Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” and Ishibashi crowd-surfing while eating a banana, didn’t disappoint. But his earnest lyrics in one of the night’s earlier songs—“Manchester”—summed up my post-concert mood perfectly: “I haven’t felt this alive in a long time.” —Schuyler Rooth

(Tonight’s Kishi Bashi show at Music Hall of Williamsburg is sold out.)