Kishi Bashi in Hamburg

In the small, fine music club ROCK CAFÉ located in St.Pauli near the Reeperbahn, concerts of some lesser known, rather outside of the mainstream placed pearls of music are presented to the treasure seekers. One of them is definitely the project of the Japanese pop artist Kishi Bashi from the USA, who had catched already this year attention with his imaginative and exciting album “Lighght”.

Previously, he was often traveling and playing solo, but since some time the experimental banjo player Mike Savino from New York City belongs to his four-member ensemble. Mike also makes music under the project name Tall Tall Trees and launched in this case as a kind of tasty appetizer the evening.

He maltreated enthusiastically and to the same time singing his banjo intensively with fingers, violin bows, drum sticks and other tools, and squeezed out of the – electronically coupled with samplers – instrument in addition to the usual banjo-tunes the strangest sounds, even a fairground organ was to hear. The mix of blue grass and pop-folk made him, as well as the entired audience obviously a lot of fun.

Still, the guests held but in typical Hanseatic shy little off and remained entrenched behind tables and glasses. That changed when the second support act, the London band Beaty Heart, started with a kind of driving, psychedelic-hyphy, cheerful dance sound that pulled the people to the stage.

For a Wednesday evening, now the Rock Café was pleasantly well filled. Outside the late October cooled down the temperatures, the air inside became warm heated, the stage was well cleared when Kaoru Ishibashi raised the bow.

He stroked and pulled out from the violin his typical sound collages and accompanied them by singing. And to sing – loud, clear, melodic, complex – this man can do very well. Is this still pop? Probably yes, but a different kind of pop, surely something very different than what usually is droning with tedious monotony from the radio. This Kishi Bashi Pop is fresh, varied, hungry for new influences and personally – even touches acoustic echoes of his Asian roots.

After a few songs in particular from his just released album along with his three musicians, these withdrew, leaving the master alone on the stage for some quiet, some classically played songs, partly accompanied by live sampled loops; a rather pensive, thoughtful part of the evening.

After four pieces of this type, the band, which had been relaxed at the bar, returned and the speed-curve was then upward, more for dancing, screwed in fun-mode after the interlude of reflection. Pop at a high level, not a copy of the retort, even if Kishi Bashi gladly and skillfully draws from musical reminiscences.

A very impressive and intense concert, Kishi Bashi served here in Hamburg and during on his tour of 18 European cities!

Andreas Torneberg

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