The 9:30 Club is, without a doubt, DC’s most famous and popular venue. Besides the enormous Verizon Center and Maryland’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, fans of mainstream music rely on 9:30 to showcase the latest and greatest in popular music. Performing as an opening act at this club is noteworthy, and to headline is even more impressive. So, when a former opener becomes the headliner, one might call that movin’ on up.
About six months ago, electric violin loop master Kishi Bashi performed here as an opener for and touring member of psychedelic act Of Montreal. Since then, he has gained exponential momentum by performing on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series and taking indie pop music by storm, a bow in one hand and microphone in the other. Now he’s back in DC, with folk sweethearts Plume Giant in tow. Audience members are in for a treat.
Plume Giant, adorable and well-dressed, grinned at the audience. From their first notes, the audience was hooked. Between two gentleman and a lovely lady, they shared violins, a harmonium, a guitar, and a piano—not to mention buttery smooth harmonies and the warmest and clearest voices I’ve heard in a long time. They took ‘60s folk to new levels with intellectual and poetic language, modern melodies, and some pop sensibilities. Around me, audience members followed their groove. A couple leaned
into each other, arms intertwined behind their backs. A young girl swayed and sang along with her eyes close, a 21st century would-be Woodstocker. This is not to say, however, that Plume Giant played hippie-dippie love child sing-a-longs. Quite the opposite was true; recent Yale graduates, these kids have serious songwriting skills, not to mention their multi-instrumentality. After an impressive set, I was hooked. My ears begged for more, which is how you know you should buy a band’s CD.
When Seattle native K. Ishibashi, better known as Kishi Bashi, took the stage of the 9:30 Club, you could feel the excitement rippling through the audience. This was a crowd that had eschewed watching the Super Bowl in order to watch a performance by one of the most talented musicians I have ever seen.
Kishi Bashi opened his set with one of my favorite songs, “Atticus In The Desert.” His ability to create entire symphonies simply by looping his voice and the violin was absolutely mind blowing. Kishi Bashi is a violin virtuoso who also has the singing and
composing ability to accompany it. Each song he played was a roller coaster in itself, beginning with him singing just a few notes into a microphone, harmonizing with it, beatboxing, and playing complex rhythms on the violin. For me, the highlights of the
show were when he covered Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” and U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name.” It was so wonderful being able to listen to him put his own take on two ubiquitous songs. It was hard to believe that all of the sounds that filled the venue had come from only one person. Kishi Bashi’s infectious, joyous energy encapsulated everyone and it was obvious that this was a man who is passionate about his music. This was a concert that I ended up attending almost by chance, and I’m so glad that I did because it was one that I will never forget.
-This was a team effort of Lotanna Obodozie and Tori Kerr