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Tuesday, January 31

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Tomorrow Never Knows Fri Jan 16 2015

Kishi Bashi Took on the Athenaeum Theatre for the Second Night of TNK


Kaoru Ishibashi is nothing if not versatile. The man behind Kishi Bashi is a violin virtuoso, a human beat box machine, a story teller, a conductor and a looping machine expert (I suppose having toured with Of Montreal probably prepares you for a range of scenarios no matter how bizarre). Last time I saw Kishi Bashi was at Metro a couple years ago -- my last visual on him was when he launched himself into the crowd, sporting a hat with cat ears over his multi-colored Mohawk, and waving his GoPro around to document the experience, so I was curious as to how he would adapt to the seated and much more sedate Athenaeum Theatre, leading a string quartet for the second night of TNK.

The night started out with In Tall Buildings, the moniker for the indie pop project of Chicago based Erik Hall (who also plays in Wild Belle). Backed by a keyboard, drums, and a bass, Hall played selections from his 2010 self titled debut album, as well as new track "Flare Gun" from his upcoming album Driver. Hall creates a sort of hazy, dreamlike, rolling, indie pop sound that simultaneously floats by while also sticking with you:

The venue itself deserves a word here -- The Athenaeum is a beautiful old theater established in 1911 in Lakeview that now hosts plays, comedy, dance etc. The main stage can hold some 900 audience members (and this particular show was sold out), with every person in a ticketed and assigned spot. Given that all of Kishi Bashi's shows that I had seen previously had been one big dance party, I was interested how it would play out.


Ishibashi was very up front with the crowd that this was his first time conducting and playing with the string quartet and he was a little nervous, "let's just pretend you all don't notice all the sweating I'm doing and let's move on." He went on to explain that while he knew the ladies of the quartet were perfectly capable of reading sheet music, he just wasn't quite able to write his personality quirks into that sheet music. He led the foursome into "Manchester" and they were off and rolling. While one of the amazing things about seeing Ishibashi perform live is watching him create these majestic towers of sound with just his violin and his looping, it was also quite lovely to see him leading the quartet through the instrumentals so that he could focus solely on the vocals. Moving into Talking Heads cover "This Must Be the Place" and through tracks off his new album Bittersweet Genesis for Him and Her, "Carry on Phenomenon" and "Q and A" (which he explained was a Kickstarter prize for a contributor, Quinn, and her best friend Alice) as well as a range of tracks off his first album, Bright Whites, "It All Began with a Burst," "I am the Antichrist to you" and "Atticus in the Desert," Ishibashi kept the audience enraptured with his strong stage presence, his striking vocals and his self deprecating humor. While it was fun seeing Ishibashi conduct the quartet, the audience also had a glimpse of him at his dancing, looping, high energy, solo best (or not exactly solo, as his glowing-banjo-wielding counterpart, Mike Savino of Tall Tall Trees, was there with him) when he performed "Philosophize in it! Chemicalize with it!" and "The Ballad of Mr. Streak" for his encore. It was almost cruel to perform such a danceable track as the finale in a seated venue, but I'm pretty sure most of the audience members who were at Athenaeum last night will be catching Mr. Ishibashi next time he comes into town -- at a more dance-friendly venue, anyway.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
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Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
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Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
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Dark Jive
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Theft Liable to Prosecution
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