K Ishibashi, aka Kishi Bashi, is the ultimate one-man orchestra. During his performance at the KEXP showcase last Friday, Ishibashi juggled violin, beatboxing, and a loop pedal loaded with English and Japanese vocal samples he recorded just before the start of the set. And with just one instrument in hand and no one else on stage, he impressed the audience with a perfectly layered, uptempo half hour of indie pop perfection.
The Japanese-American multi-instrumentalist is the frontman for synth-centric, Brooklyn-based band Jupiter One, and has toured and played with Of Montreal, Regina Spektor, and Sondre Lerche. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, this April he released his début full-length 151A. Each of the nine tracks cleverly patches together hints of classical music and chamber pop matched to poetic lyrics.
The CMJ show was in a ballroom tucked away in the basement of a building along Union Square, and although it was only half-full, the dapperly dressed Ishibashi had the crowd’s full attention. There was a burst of applause as Ishibashi strummed his violin like a ukulele at the beginning of the song “Manchester,” and an appreciative quiet as he belted out, “I haven’t felt this alive in a long time.” Ishibashi wrapped up the set with a beautiful cover of the Shins’ “Kissing the Lipless” and a nod of gratitude to the rest of his band: the chair holding up his violin case.
Photography by Oresti Tsonopoulos.