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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Kishi Bashi, Tall Tall Trees stun at Club Congress


    Have you ever heard a violinist with an American-Japanese influence and a banjo player together on stage? Better yet, ever heard a violinist recording live and looping his tracks as the other musician uses his banjo as both a drum and guitar?

    Virginia-based multi-instrumentalist Kishi Bashi came to Tucson on a headlining tour alongside New York City’s Tall Tall Trees on Tuesday night. Known as K Ishibashi, this violinist-turned-vocalist came onto the music scene with the help of artists like Montreal and Regina Spektor.

    Club Congress is an intimate venue showered in soothing light where fans feel close to the onstage artists. Ishibashi took the intimacy a step further by presenting a show that was comedic, connected and playful.

    Tall Tall Trees came on stage in a self-admitted Red Bull-induced frenzy that gave way to a warm, personal performance. With shaggy, untrimmed hair and a robust beard, band member Mike Savino entertained the crowd with his rich personality between songs, sharing that his banjo is named “Space Banjo” and making Tucson jokes.

    A vivacious character who comes across as completely authentic, Savino helped bring together an otherwise disparate crowd of uppity hipsters.

    Then smoke swirled around the front of the stage as a slender figure in a black button-down and silver-sequined bow tie appeared. When the smoke cleared, Ishibashi jumped right into his set with “Intro / Pathos, Pathos,” trailed by Savino and backup singer Elizabeth Ziman, whose style and charm closely resembled that of Zooey Deschanel. A strong stage presence and rhythmic live looping made for the perfect storm in a lively and animated performance.

    Ishibashi is a classically trained artist who has been playing the violin since he was a child, and all his practice has paid off: The crowd’s jaws collectively dropped as they watched him record his own material live, loop it and then develop layers upon layers of beatboxing and violin sequences.

    Ishibashi is undoubtedly a rare talent. He plays his violin traditionally, as a fiddle and even as a ukulele. His vocals are hypnotic, while his beatboxing is both innovative and on point.
    But it’s his humility that really makes him a class act.

    After the show, Savino spoke of Ishibashi with admiration. The duo had been on tour for five weeks by the time they arrived in Tucson and had already picked up a large gathering of followers.

    “He is very humble,” Savino said. “He doesn’t realize the impact he’s having on people.”

    And his impact is profound. Even crowd members who had seen live pedal-based looping on stage before couldn’t help but whisper, “Wow,” under their breaths as Ishibashi’s beatboxing, vocals and violin tracks beautifully intertwined.

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