Kishi Bashi returns to Calvin better than ever

File photo.
File photo.

His music takes you to another world. The songs are layered with the harmonious sounds of merely a violin and his voice. Just sit and listen as the music washes over you and floods all of your senses — this is what it is like to listen to Kishi Bashi.

Now, just imagine a live show.

This isn’t Kishi Bashi’s first time at Calvin. In fact, he was here last year opening for Tinariwen when he managed to blow the audience away. He was quickly asked to return to do another show.

The opening act, Tall Tall Trees, is definitely worth mentioning, too. This one man, one multifunctional instrument band is impressively talented. Although his sound is much different than Bashi’s — much more indie folk — the way in which he goes about making music is very similar.

Savino plays a banjo, but not just any banjo. He informed the crowd that many people refer to it as the banjotron 500. This is an appropriate title for this piece of machinery, which would best be described as a light-up banjo meets drum. Yes, a banjo that lights up. Savino even handed a remote control to an audience member letting her know that she would be his lighting director for the evening.

Savino included the perfect amount of humor in his performance. He talked about touring with Bashi and how they are beginning to lose their manners and starting to act like monkeys. He commented on the fact he was playing in a place called the Ladies Literary Club, adding that it smells like learning.

But the music was fantastic. If I were to put my ear to the club’s door I would have assumed there was a band on stage. Instead there was just one very talented man who effectively used looping and layering to give the audience a full-band feel.

He ended his performance with a short but inspirational speech to the students in the audience.

“Find your passion and run after it,” Savino said.

Kishi Bashi then took the stage, at first only accompanied by Savino. While Savino used his banjotron, Bashi used a violin and his voice to create layers of beautiful audio. As he plucked and fiddled his instrument, he sang flawlessly and danced with excitement. Savino and Bashi worked together to record their own blend of loops and beats, using their few instruments to create a full-band effect.

After performing a couple of songs together, the rest of the band, which consisted of a drummer and a bassist, joined them on stage.

Bashi involved the crowd by talking and asking them to clap. Although the club is a seated area, the crowd stood pressed against the stage, engaged in the music. The band played many songs including a few from Bashi’s new album set to release sometime next year.

Toward the end of the show, the band left the stage, leaving Bashi alone with the crowd. To set the tranquil mood, Bashi turned on an old school overhead projector and laid different pieces of blown glass, which he made himself, on it. One rotated while the other sat behind it and was projected onto the upstage wall. Bashi played some softer songs and the crowd stood quietly, taking in all of the different dynamics and beautiful sounds. Bashi thanked the crowd and said goodnight.

But of course that wasn’t all. The crowd didn’t budge and cheered for an encore, which Bashi willingly gave. He returned to the stage with the rest of the band behind him. He played another new song from the album telling the crowd he hoped it would make them dance; it did. What followed was Bashi’s most popular song “Bright Whites.” The crowd went crazy — dancing and singing.

Bashi pulled out a disposable camera and snapped a couple pictures of the audience before diving into the crowd, taking pictures as he surfed over their heads. He made his way back to the stage, sang a few more words and thanked the crowd. The show was over.

The energy from both the crowd and the stage was phenomenal. Bashi was flawless and enchanting. The show is being highly praised by those who attended.

Junior Ian Noyes thoroughly enjoyed the show. “It’s a new song every time he plays it,” Noyes said.

Sophomore Aubrey Olson also praised the performance. “His voice is just so flawless; he doesn’t have the amount of fame he deserves. I was just really impressed with the show.”

The conversation with the band, led by student activities director Ken Heffner, gave insight into how Bashi puts on such a great show.

Bashi explained his goals as a performer:

“I try to keep my show dynamic. You treat a tour as kind of an experiment.”

About the Author

Sierra Savela

Sierra Savela is a Chimes guest writer for the 2012-13 school year.

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