On Saturday I saw Kishi Bashi open for Deerhoof and Of Montreal at the Showbox by the Market. Honestly it was one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long time, mostly because each band carried themselves with full confidence and commanded the stage and the audience. Kishi Bashi was one of the most pleasant surprises in an opening act I’ve seen in a long time. I knew Deerhoof would be an energetic rumpus of thrash-like math rock and of Montreal would be a genre storm of psychedelic weirdness. I had no idea what to expect with Kishi Bashi but the talent he showed was jaw dropping and moving.
Kishi Bashi came out on stage suited up with a cute little bow tie and a styled hairdo. He carried a violin with coolness, holding it alongside his authentic smile. He started pulling the chords like any normal violinist but that was the shortest he remained any kind of normal. He clicked a pedal and looped the viola. He started plucking on the strings annunciating individual notes, looping them in the process. Every few measures he would add a sound, creating layers. All of a sudden he was holding a mic and was beat boxing. The noise he created escalated louder and louder turning himself into an individual orchestra. Watching him create such beautiful noise was beyond impressive. By the end of the first song every one in the audience had looks of shock and surprise. What was that we just witnessed?
In what could be a limited concept of a man with a violin, Kishi Bahsi really goes leagues ahead. Not all of his songs are orchestrated works; many of his songs are built through his dynamic vocals and his outstanding range from high to low within notes. On “Bright Whites” he shows a pop song simpleness, something similar to Simon & Garfunkel. He sings, “You and me at the edge of the world/with a pretty little smile for me to see” to the kind of tune that sticks in your head. He introduced “I Am The Antichrist To You” as a love song, smirking slightly clearly noting the irony. The song is atmospheric and lovely, like a faint memory of regret.
Kishi Bashi is actually his stage name but his real name is K Ishibashi. He may presently live in Florida but he was born in Seattle and he seemed rather thrilled to be here. The background visual on stage looked like a person walking across the mess of construction on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. On nights like this he was actually pulling double duty because he is a touring member in Of Montreal. He doesn’t show any sign of fatigue, only gratitude. He smiles and interacts with the crowd showing a true genuinely. He is on the verge of releasing his first LP called 151a. It should be available on April 10th. Kishi Bashi is someone who carried a good attitude and unbelievable talent. I certainly felt like I was seeing something special in this individual.
This was kind of an unusual event for a few reasons; who wants to go to a party on a Sunday night when they’re probably too dunk to drive and have to wake up early in the morning for work? The people who are dedicating to the Sasquatch Festival! Still, the lineup was on a live feed and would be on the internet immediately after its announcement. The tickets to this party were also free! But it was on a first come first service basis and there was no guarantee you’d get in even if you got a ticket. Picking up tickets was also inconvenient for the working class as you had to drive to a specific Verizon outlet store to pick them up. To me, this just meant the people who were dedicated enough to come to the show were there to have a good time, for sure. Also, the Steelers lost, so it was a good day.
I missed most of Mad Rad but Das Racist were a showcase of weirdness like I’ve never seen before. They are a hip hop band who beats are mostly based in dub step but this is where they cease from normality. They jump around on stage, making strange faces, taking off their shoes, waving their butts in the air, and pretty much having a good time. They reminded me of a group of friends who were making music in their bedroom but were surprised to find out they were on stage.
The Thermals were fun, fast, and hard, like always. One of the things about The Thermals is the progression in their sound; when they first started as a band they were recording with a tape deck and with album they’ve gained a cleaner sound. I had seen them a couple weeks earlier in a hole in the wall venue in Olympia, which, based on the venue’s capabilities, sounded very raw and brought out some nostalgia of their old sound. The Showbox makes most bands sound pretty great and on this occasion The Thermals were no exception. They raced through a quick set but the crowd was more than willing to jump up and down and let loose. Especially with hits like “Here’s Your Future,” “How We Know” and “It’s Trivia”.
When they came back for an encore members of Das Racist, Mad Rad, and Champagne Champagne came out and ran through an improvised rap on top of Thermals’ “Never Listen to Me”. This was a party!
There was also a lot of suspense in air for Sasquatch’s lineup. For months people have been anticipating who could possibly playing and based on the crowd reaction, most were satisfied. The lineup includes: Foo Fighters, Modest Mouse, Death Cab For Cutie, Wilco, The Flaming Lips, Iron &Wine, Bright Eyes, Bassnecktar, Wolf Parade, Chromeo, Local Natives, Matt & Kim, The Decemberists, !!!, Deerhunter, Best Coast, Surfer Blood, The Globes and many more.
Check out the complete lineup and ticket information here: http://www.sasquatchfestival.com/#/
Hawaiian raised self described indie reggae rock group Iration performed in front of a sold out show at Showbox Sodo on January 21, 2011 supporting Rebelution’s Winter Greens Tour. Battling a wicked cold, I got doped up on Dayquil and ventured out on that cold winter night to check it out.
Having been to Showbox Sodo on numerous occasions for a wide variety of shows, this was my first experience with such a mellow and unbelievably friendly crowd. And more eclectic than I have ever experienced! Hipsters, skaters, Microsofties and hippies rubbed elbows in the cavernous space – it was something to see! I managed to snag a chair at a small table occupied by a cute young couple named Sylvia and Nathan, in exchange for lively discussion and a Flotzam business card. (Side note: my first assignment, and imagine my surprise at the number of people who approached me asking what I was writing? What did I just write? Who did I work for? What did I think?) Iration performed in the middle of the lineup, after L.A. based funk group Orgone and before the tours headliner, Santa Barbara based reggae group Rebelution.
Iration opened their set with an amazing song sans vocals, marked by the simple and repetitive chord structures and beats that we know and love about this kind of music. With more of a “traditional” reggae sound than the first group, the crowd immediately shifted gears and settled into the hypnotic head bobbing and hand waving I was expecting. With delicious keys and a wailing and grinding guitar, I embraced that familiar 2/4 beat that defines this genre. For their second song, they performed their hit “Time Bomb” and that got the crowd REALLY riled up! (This 2010 title track has been as as high as #12 on the US iTunes reggae singles chart.) It was during this song that I really noticed what an incredible stage presence this group has. They come across as being very relaxed and in tune with one another. I enjoy this, and it makes watching them feel very comfortable and totally confident in the show they are giving you. Next up is “Cookie Jar” a single that reached number one on a local station in Hawaii and was featured on Fuel TV’s Triple Crown of Surfing recap. This song has a very warm, “beachy” feeling and highlights the talents of the groups incredible drummer. The song is also carried by amazing vocals and a simple keys section that crescendos up, up, up – embellished by a simple soft guitar. “Get Back to Me” as well, builds and builds, gets the crowd clapping and employs the classic call and response that audiences love to get into. Crowd participation is big on this song – I adore it. (Side note: cold medicine is working, I am totally amped – but with the loss of taste and smell, my whiskey is like a spicy water, and I can’t smell the pot, but I know it’s there…I haven’t lost my sense of sight, after all!)
During their entire set I was extremely drawn in by the vocals. Vocals and lyrics are very important me; I have a pet peeve for vocalists without diction, cupping the mike, singing too fast. These vocalists have me! They are clear and crisp and confident. The night ends with top notch performances of “Electricity”, “I’m With You” and “Turn Around”. It seems as if the sold out crowd knows every song. I resolve to go home and learn them too.
According to their website, Iration was recently named one of iTunes’ “Best Upcoming Artists.” I can rally around this statement with confidence. This is a clean, tight group that seamlessly combines elements of traditional reggae with a modern edge and their own relaxed and self-assured style. Besides, a sold out crowd at Showbox Sodo who sings along with every song doesn’t lie. These boys are Seattle favorites for sure. Iration’s next record - Fresh Grounds EP - is scheduled for an iTunes debut release on February 1, 2011.
Mishka was in town last week. Here's some pics by Adam Forslund:
Big crowd for DJ Shadow. In-your-face push of the DJ Shadow iPhone app before the show started. “Download me! Download me!” Like if you didn’t have the app you weren’t getting the full experience? The app is is basically a promotional vehicle to push tweets and facebook updates about DJ Shadow. And pics.
Once the show started, it was all about the Shadowsphere.
In fact, didn’t even see a human for the first 1/2 hour of the set. Like he just hit play. Think a lot of the stuff were remixes of his stuff. How post post pre post modern. Go to show; listen to remixes; cheer at a sphere.
The sphere trope was followed down all its logical paths. Hmm, what to project on a sphere? Planets! Basketballs! Discoballs! The Deathstar!
Eventually the wizard behind the curtain appeared in his sphere. Wearing a shirt that said “Support Weird.” Played new stuff. No vinyl; all digital. The beats were blocky in the new stuff, anti-dub.
Welcome to 2010.