Indie psychedelic-pop artist (and of Montreal alum) Kishi Bashi played The Grey Eagle Friday night and the show was electric. It was a warm, friendly and welcoming atmosphere throughout the night with no shortage of dancing, clapping and smiles during both Kishi Bashi and a great opening performance by Tall Tall Trees.
Tall Tall Trees is the passionate brainchild of relatively recent Asheville transplant Mike Savino, originally from Brooklyn. He has released three records and one EP under his own label Good Neighbor Records, with his latest album Freedays just released in February of this year. Much like Kishi Bashi, Savino’s creative sound exudes an innovative music approach, placing the listener in a fun and light, dreamlike state on the surface, with much wisdom and depth underneath. His project Tall Tall Trees includes Asheville drummer/percussionist Micah Thomas (Siamese Jazz Club, Jesse Barry & The Jam, Ghost Pipe Trio), helping to add even more layers to Savino’s multidimensional style.
Kaoru Ishibashi writes and performs music under the moniker Kishi Bashi and has played at Austin City Limits, Newport Folk Festival and on “Late Night with David Letterman,” just to name a few of many highlights. The crowd at The Grey eagle was packed tightly and the enjoyment and appreciation was obvious. There was also a family vibe to the show with a number of children in the attentive audience, especially at the foot of the stage. Ishibashi commented on this early in the show, saying, “There are so many children here, it’s so amazing.”
A huge component of Kishi Bashi’s playful, lofty music is Ishibashi’s use of a variety of effects pedals and building layers of melodic and spacey loops, creating ambient soundscapes with his violin and vocals that seem to float and flutter.
Tall Tall Trees has toured with Kishi Bashi a handful of times now (including internationally), as well as collaborating as a regular addition to the full band lineup. The Grey Eagle show was no exception, with Savino lending backup vocals, bass and adding even more musical layers with his custom-made electric, light up banjo he dubbed the “Banjotron 5000” during the entire Kishi Bashi set.
Ishibashi’s live performance reflects the playful nature of the music itself. At one point a female vocalist, dressed as a steak, joined the band onstage. Multiple cannons of party confetti were shot into the crowd and Ishibashi wore a white naval captain’s hat to perform a cover of “Come Sail Away” by Styx, while dancing around and giving high-fives to the kids and adults in the front row.
The band also included a special treat for the encore, in which the members took their instruments into the middle of the crowd. They performed three acoustic songs in the intimate setting, lit only by cell phones from the audience, while children blew bubbles.