By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: There are certain shows that you look forward to more than others. When you've seen as many shows as we have at The Busted Amp, it's just the nature of the game. Friday night was one of those nights. Joseph, my partner and co-founder here at The Busted Amp (finally) moved back to Cincinnati from Nashville. Kishi Bashi was the first show on our calendar that we'd be attending together, thus beginning a new chapter of collaboration and joint perspective that I fully look forward to exploring in the year ahead.
Joseph and I have both seen Kishi Bashi on multiple occasions in the past, and we agreed that his latest album Sonderlust was one of the best of 2016. I was very excited to hear the new material in a live setting and how the songs have evolved in the year since the album was released.
The band started the set by performing a few songs from 151a acoustically to celebrate the album's 5th anniversary. including "Bright Whites" and "Beat the Bright Out of Me". The remainder of the show was a pretty standard overview of their three albums to date. The one thing that stuck out to me the most was the surprising lack of emphasis on looping, especially on songs from Sonderlust. In the past, K has used looping for a majority of songs, and oftentimes they are the backbone that drives the song forward. This time, however, looping was used more as an accent than as a centerpiece. Because of this, the set felt much more like a rock show than anything that I've experienced from him in the past.
Speaking of rock shows, Kishi Bashi has been known to throw classic rock covers into their sets, and tonight they played a face melting version of the Styx classic "Come Sail Away" with their merch person dressed up in a giant steak outfit. Yes, Mr. Steak sang Styx and it was fantastic.
The encore was another highlight for me, K and his band performed "Manchester" and "Atticus, In The Desert" acoustically in the middle of the pit, surrounded by fans singing at the top of their lungs. It was a cool, intimate moment that I won't soon forget.
Joseph: It's good to be back in Cincinnati and alongside my partner-in-crime Derek for these shows. Looking back at the hundreds of shows I've seen I was surprised to discover that I've only actually seen Kishi Bashi once, though the personal memories I have of the band far outweigh that one performance. Kishi Bashi's music has really stuck with me over the years, and I was giddy with excitement to see him live for only the second time. Despite lofty expectations, he did not disappoint.
While I share many of the same feelings Derek had, he didn't talk about the opener for Kishi Bashi in Tall Tall Trees. This band is a refreshingly original take on indie-folk, and frontman (and basically solo artist) Mike Savino is a very unique banjo player. While Savino is also the banjo/utility player for Kishi Bashi, but with Tall Tall Trees he's really given the chance to be himself. Savino utilizes a wide array of tools to create different sounds on the banjo, and his latest album, Freedays, is arguably is best album to date. Fortunately the sounds of this album transfer pretty well live, though there were times where the 20th Century Theater's sound system simply couldn't handle the sounds Savino was making. The mix could have been better, but I can hardly blame the venue for not building a sound system built around someone as unique as Tall Tall Trees.
While some of these sound deficiencies persisted into Kishi Bashi's set, none of it was even remotely enough to deter from the overall experience. Both Tall Tall Trees and Kishi Bashi put on great shows, and memories like dancing along with Mr. Steak while singing "Come Sail Away" or watching K. get into the crowd for an intimate encore are some of the better memories I have of all the live shows I've seen. I actually teared up during his acoustic rendition of "Manchester." It was beauty in its purest form. Even though I personally love his looping and was slightly disappointed that he didn't do it more, his rock show vibe still had all the energy it needed and then some. I cannot emphasize this enough: Kishi Bashi puts on one of the coolest shows you'll see, and when Tall Tall Trees opens for him? Forget about it. It doesn't get much better than that. Let's keep this roll of good live shows going, 2017.
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: