Words By Leon Hontz, Photos By Miranda Hontz
The synagogue at Sixth & I was the perfect venue for Kishi Bashi and his opener Busman’s Holiday. They put on a memorable show marked in equal measure by wonder and delight.
The deep warmth of Busman’s Holiday’s set was a welcome comfort from the biting cold of the evening. There is an inherent trust and honesty in their performance and an undeniable joviality that permeates into the audience. The two brothers from Bloomington, Indiana pull you into their family, both through the massive amount of heart that they pour into their music and the equally entertaining banter that they share between songs.
Their performance captured the essence of a meal spent with cherished friends and family, where the tone may change but the tenderness and unshakable love carries throughout. My personal highlights were their cover of “Strangers” by The Kinks (the first of several outstanding covers this evening) and their acapella performance to close their set. The latter made full use of the acoustics and ambiance of the synagogue. In the end, the brothers Rogers of Busman’s Holiday left the audience with a palpable goodwill that Kishi Bashi picked up and never put down.
Kishi Bashi was joined onstage by a string quartet and otherworldly banjo player Tall Tall Trees. Together, they filled the synagogue to the rafters with a constantly evolving soundscape that was nothing short of amazing. For this tour, Kishi Bashi has assembled around him a core of undeniably talented musicians that aide him in shaping his fantasies and visions before the audience. You cannot help but feel transported by the ethereal melodies and bounding dynamism of the songs. If I could pick a music to set my dreams to, it would be that of Kishi Bashi.
The lofty spaces explored by the music and lyrics of Kishi Bashi were welcome in the synagogue. “Bittersweet Genesis for Him and Her,” Kishi Bashi’s take on the creation myth, felt particularly at home. The audience couldn’t help but rise from its pews for the more dancey songs like “Carry on Phenomenon,” “Atticus in the Desert,” and the seemingly J-POP inspired “The Ballad of Mr Steak.” We were also treated to outstanding covers of “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads and Beirut’s “A Sunday Smile.”
From the good nature brought by Busman’s Holiday to the immensity and decadence of Kishi Bashi, I am confident that none in the audience were left wanting. With stops throughout the US into mid-May, this is a show that you do not want to miss.