Concert Review: Kishi Bashi

October 6, 2014

I kicked off my first day of senior year right with Kishi Bashi’s stellar performance at Mr. Smalls Theatre in Millvale, PA this past August. I’ve seen Mr. Ishibashi twice before: the first time as a touring violinist for of Montreal at Terminal 5 in NY and at Carnegie Mellon, during the spring semester of my sophomore year in February 2013. Kishi Bashi was supported by HEIDEMANN, an independent act led by namesake Monika Heidemann, and Bombadil, a charming four-man band from North Carolina. I had been eagerly awaiting this concert after the release of Kishi Bashi’s second full-length album Lighght, pronounced “light,” earlier this year in May.

HEIDEMANN opened the night with her eccentric tunes that sounded like they were imported from outer space. I’ll admit she wasn’t the kind of artist I was expecting to open for Kishi Bashi and the only parallel I could draw between the two was their shared use of musical looping. Although she is currently based out of Brooklyn, NY she definitely had more of a Seattle or Portland hipster vibe. Her slow tempo, live-recorded music was reminiscent of when I saw Dadelus open for Yeasayer at the same venue in August 2012. HEIDMANN’s lack of experience showed during her performance, “[she was] a bit awkward,” as one concertgoer put it. Although HEIDEMANN’s musical tastes don’t line up with mine, she clearly has a distinct style that will enable her to stand out from other artists.

The end of HEIDMANN’s set marked the beginning of another, as three dapper men took the stage. Something was amiss though, for the fourth member of Bombadil was nowhere to be found. In my eyes, it didn’t make a difference since the remaining three gentlemen did not fail to impress me. Bombadil’s stage presence was largely reminiscent of the time I saw Punch Brothers at the Rex Theater where all five of the band’s members were clad in elegant menswear and had no trouble interacting with the audience. The band’s folk-pop sound was similar to the likes of Fleet Foxes or the Decemberists with the peppiness of Good Old War sprinkled in. I adored Bombadil’s soothing harmonies and calming tunes, both of which were refreshing to my ears, a pure delight.

The drastic juxtaposition between HEIDMANN and Bombadil’s musical styles kind of took me by surprise, however I thought they were suitable openers for Kishi Bashi. Ishibashi was classically trained in violin while growing up and when he stopped by CMU in winter 2013, I had the chance to speak with him for a brief moment. Kishi Bashi mentioned that he drew his influences from chamber music, jazz improvisation, and what he referred to as “adolescent music,” produced by artists such as Nirvana. Today, he seamlessly blends traditional and electronic elements together to form his own genre of music.

Kishi Bashi’s mastery of the violin was made apparent right from the start, as the audience was welcomed with one of his signature string introductions, which segued into “Philosophize In It Chemicalize With It!” from Lighght. Despite the release of Lighght a few months earlier, I found that the show’s repertoire was well-balanced. It featured songs from Lighght, his debut album 151a from 2012, and his EP Room for Dream. Going in to the concert, I was mostly interested to see him perform new material, the bonus track “Brandenberg Stomp” in particular, however, in retrospect, I was not disappointed with the selection.

The best thing about seeing Kishi Bashi in person is seeing him construct songs from the ground up. Watching him record and mix the simple phrase, “Ha ha ha” for “Hahaha Pt.1” was extremely satisfying and mesmerizing. He also caught the audience off guard with a seemingly impromptu cover of “Live and Let Die,” originally performed by Paul McCartney and Wings. What I love about Mr. Ishibashi is his ability to turn plain, ordinary speech into not just music, but an experience. Kishi Bashi’s concerts are not just about listening and watching him on stage, it’s about experiencing how his music is made. Till then, I’ll be waiting for his return to the Steel City.

Kishi Bashi will be on tour through November 1, 2014, for more information visit Kishi Bashi’s Facebook page!

I’d like to thank Tito Belis for all of his help!


October 3, 2014

October 28, 2014
Byham Theater
Cohen & Grigsby Trust Presents series

Spok Frevo Orquestra draws inspiration from frevo, a vibrant music of elaborated arrangements and deep roots. Spok Frevo takes tradition to the center stage, but does not renounce allegiance to freedom. It relies on what jazz is all about: improvisation. Spok Frevo Orquestra takesfrevo from its traditional supporting role at carnivals and presents it as the leading actor, shedding light on its original texture and complex technique – allowing room for artistic freedom and improvisation. With its inexhaustible energy and relentless, driving rhythms, “it would be difficult to find jazz music which is more infectious than fervor or more definitive of a region” (All About Jazz).

Buy tickets:

A wide range of Brazilian music can be heard on WRCT’s Brazilian radio hour on Fridays from 6 to 7 pm with DJ Carla Leininger.

VIA2014 Preview: WRCT Selects

September 25, 2014

The fifth annual VIA Music & New Media Festival is coming up next week, Oct. 1-5. This year’s festival features over 50 artists at more than 15 events, so we’re here to help you decide which to go see. The full lineup and ticketing info is online at Check out some of WRCT’s picks for VIA 2014:

Blue Hawaii / October 4 / Union Trust Buliding
Blue Hawaii is a duo from Montreal. They make ambient pop infused with techno, layered with gentle female vocals. Check out a few of their singles:

IVIES / October 3 / Belvedere’s Ultra-Dive
The Pittsburgh-based Milwaukee producer, has been rolling out beat after beat, pumping his sounds full of vintage distortion, found samples, and sunshine. His latest sound, “Burgundy,” is a loose, hip-hop-influenced rhythm. If you enjoy the eclectic, patchwork beats of Koushik or Oh No, and crave the smooth sampling of producers like Vanilla or AshTreJinkins, IVIES deserves a listen.

Little People, A/V showcase / October 4 / The Rex Theater
Little People is a instrumental hip-hop artist thats been releasing these sick cerebral videos to accompany songs on his most recent release, We Are But Hunks of Wood.

Mark McGuire, A/V showcase / October 1 / The Shop
Mark McGuire, a midwestern producer and guitarist, is coming to blow your mind with his gorgeous soundscapes.

Tell your friends: Saturday’s main event at the Union Trust Building feat. Zebra Katz, Blue Hawaii, Cakes Da Killa, Traxman, and more is just $15 at the door for students with valid ID.

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