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Review Wed Jun 04 2014
Indiana label Joyful Noise Recordings puts out some of the best records year in and year out. They have a fantastic stable of artists that are dedicated and place every bit of themselves in to their music, something few labels can attest to. This past Saturday at the Metro, the label was well represented as Busman's Holiday and Kishi Bashi came out to support their recently released albums A Long Goodbye and Lighght respectively.
Busman's Holiday is made up brothers Lewis and Addison Rogers. Together they create touching and tender songs that deal with love, space and the things in between. The brothers are natural storytellers, which was evident in both their songs and crowd interactions. They had an instant rapport with the audience at the Metro, always taking a moment between songs to recount their adventures and follies. They gleefully reminisce about petting rhinoceros at the Lincoln Park Zoo and accidentally wearing the same black shirt and red socks.
Musically, they had a strong grasp on everyone at the show. Lewis played guitar with the same affection as his voice had when he belted out "Baby Blue". Addison's drumming, performed on top of an old Samsonite suitcase, was fantastic. The suitcase wasn't just used for quirky charm, they have more than enough charm. Instead it acts as a completely integral and necessary part of their sound. Busman's Holiday DIY sensibility inhabits all their songs, connecting them and the crowd even closer together than their patter did. During "Daniel's Lament" the brothers took to tapping their chests and guitar, which got the crowd swaying and clapping along. Their cover of The Kinks "Waterloo Sunset" was nice detour from original songs, but finishing with their original "We are We" left the crowd with a warm and pleasant farewell.
K Ishibashi, the man behind Kishi Bashi, experiments wildly with his violin, producing some of the most interesting music today. It's not surprising considering his work with Of Montreal, who he opened for at the Metro a couple years prior. It was clear that this night was special, becoming the headliner he has fully deserved after his amazing albums 151a and Lighght. Ishibashi came out with a sense of calmness and fortitude that matched the delicate sheets stretch across the wooden structures on stage. It was a nice sight that burst during "Philosophize it! Chemicalize It!", where a pop of confetti and streamers began to fall from the ceiling, shifting Ishibashi to hyperactivity that infected the rest of the set and crowd at the Metro.
Ishibashi's set was filled with small moments of improvisation, both on his violin and some beatboxing, all adding to his already great repertoire of songs. "Wonder Woman, Wonder Me" and both parts of "Hahaha" work incredibly well, almost seeming like entirely new songs under the band's live talent. Mike Savino, or Tall Tall Trees as he was known as through the night, jammed on his multipurpose banjo expertly. The banjo's continuously transforming face, lighting up in different colors, was drummed, bowed, and strummed passionately. It was really impressive, complementing Ishibashi's violin work.
The final few songs saw members of the band stripped away. Ishibashi and Tall Tall Trees played the immensely appropriate song for the hot summer night, "Evalyn, Summer Has Arrived", before Tall Tall Trees exited leaving Ishibashi alone on stage. He took the time to explain the his intentions with the creation story "Bittersweet Genesis for Him and Her". A dotted pattern of lights fell over the stage during "I am the Antichrist to You", giving Ishibashi's determined look a stronger and bolder underline. He balanced that professionalism with his joyful demeanor the entire night. During the novel "Manchester", the final song of the proper set, Ishibashi was less alone as the crowd lovingly sang along with every word.
The encore was rife with intense fervor. "The Ballad of Mr. Steak" , barring a moment of screeching technical difficulty, was an uproarious performance. It was faster and bubblier than on the album. Ishibashi dashed all over the stage before addressing the crowd as Paul McCartney to introduce "Live and Let Die". The song fit perfectly well with Ishibashi's energy, bouncing along magnificently. The set ended with a nice self-referential nod: band and crew members crowd surfed,Ishibashi donned a cat mask, more streamers and confetti rained down on the audience all the while "It All Began with a Burst" was played with the zeal it deserved. The set ended as it began, full of joy.