Kishi Bashi (photo: Jon Ching)
Kishi Bashi and Busman’s Holiday sold out The Fillmore Friday night to one of the friendliest, fun-hearted crowds I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of in a long time. Originally slated to play The Masonic, the last-minute change of venue turned out to be perfect for one reason: Fillmore’s legendary bouncy floor. Once the crowd got going, it was almost as if the drums were sending waves through the crowd, resonating through the floorboards.
The brother duo that is Busman’s Holiday started things off right with perfect harmonies easy to sing along to, even if you’ve never heard their music before. With just the two of them, they had a full and satisfying sound, singings songs with light-hearted themes that had the crowd grinning with delight. This was further punctuated with their relaxed, humorous side banter, referencing TV ads from their hometown of Bloomington, Indiana that I’m sure no one at the show has ever seen, but that we all found funny nonetheless. Their disarming set was the perfect warm-up for the headliner.
Kaoru Ishibashi, aka Kishi Bashi, approached the stage sternly to the theme of Stranger Things, and I couldn’t be happier to see they gave them red lights on the stage. He gave a big grin and started his twinkling magic. We all started dancing as he tapped on his keyboard and bowed his violin, singing in sweet falsetto as his bandmates helped make melodies in support.
Kishi Bashi did a good job at letting us in on what his songs represented. After a few, I got the sense that his outlook on the world was one of interconnectedness. It made me feel that as we live our lives, we’re all experiencing something incredibly rich, and though we’re strangers, we have a shared experience that unites us. He mentioned this mentality a few times, and it was such a refreshing feeling to hear it vocalized. He added some humor as he got deep into layering string and vocals beats, flowing into the monotone words, “Don’t……Vote……For……Trump.” It was on the third loop that I actually made out what he just said and the entire crowd erupted in laughter. Looping was definitely a tool Kishi Bashi’s perfected, even doing a pretty mean beatboxed song.
And then there was Mr. Steak. A grinning, sparkly-eyed, man-sized T-bone steak. He came out with a theatrical flourish, dancing and bouncing around on stage to a ballad written in tribute to him. It wasn’t long before Kishi Bashi leaped into the crowd, head back, pointing to where he wanted to go. A violin, covered in paintings of meat, somehow appeared in the crowd. He grabbed it and played it happily as the crowd transported him back to the stage. Back on ground, he grabbed the steak’s shoulder and bounced side to side with his other hand waving in the air, exactly the same as the sea of fans who were together swaying, and exactly when confetti was shot into the air and somehow stayed suspended for the rest of the song. I don’t believe there was even one person who didn’t have their hand up, swaying and beaming with a smile.
I entered the show thinking I was going to have my usual three songs to take photos, maybe stay for couple more, and then go home to get some rest after an incredibly tiring week. But instead I had my whole mood brightened by listening to some beautiful and masterfully-performed music and dancing with strangers in confetti. It was an incredibly satisfying show, and it made be feel so lucky to have that in my city, just a 20-minute bus ride away. So with that, make sure you read up on your propositions and vote to keep this city cool and happy.