Though the crowd for Tuesday’s show at the 9:30 club in D.C. may have been for headliner Sondre Lerche, those who arrived early were quickly won over by openers Kishi Bashi and Nightlands.
Kishi Bashi, or K, might be a familiar face for those who have seen him on tour with Of Montreal. In fact, the track “Evalyn, Summer Has Arrived” on his EP, Room for Dream, features Of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes. But don’t write off Kishi Bashi if Of Montreal’s psychedelic afrobeat electronica pop (plus a few other genres) music is too much for you. Kishi Bashi’s tunes (all streaming live at kishibashi.bandcamp.com) are much more mellow and would easily appeal to fans of Sondre Lerche.
The most impressive aspect of K’s set was that while he took the stage alone, he managed to produce a sound as big as that on his EP. The frontman for Nightlands later commented on the impressiveness of K’s one-man show, which was filled with an impressive display of violin and loop mastery. He played tracks like “Bright Whites” and “Manchester” from the EP as well as a few unrecorded others. He signed off his song about “cheating” with a middle finger and a laugh; at this point the crowd was already bobbing along to the synth beats. But, when he began “Just the Tip” (yes, that is what it’s about), the audience was completely won over.
Nightlands, a band from Philadelphia, took the stage second, following Kishi Bashi with another round of easy listening. With a combination of harmonies, reverb and a little bit of folk rock, they were a pleasant final opener for Sondre Lerche.
The club was completely silent as Lerche took the stage. Backed by Kishi Bashi on the keyboard/violin, Nightlands Dave Hartley on the bass, and drummer Dave Heilman, Lerche started with “Ricochet” from his new self-titled album. The Tuesday show was particularly noteworthy as it was the release day of this album (“Is anyone from the White House here to celebrate with me?” he joked.).
Lerche played a mix of new and old music, all of which the crowd responded to positively. Of course, it was the old favorites that garnered the most sing-a-longs. In between the newer “Never Mind the Typos” (one of my favorites from the new album), and classics “Faces Down” and “Dead Passengers,” Lerche wooed the crowd with his charming commentary — as if we weren’t already obsessed with him. His acoustic rendition of “My Hands are Shaking” and dynamic performance of “Phantom Punch” were the best of the evening. By the time he closed with “Modern Nature” (the female accompaniment sung sweetly by the crowd), we were wishing he hadn’t been joking earlier when he offered to play his whole new album for us.
Needless to say, the show at the 9:30 Club was an impressive display of new and old talents. By the end of the night, one was hoping that Lerche’s next album would follow a similar successful trajectory as the others and that Kishi Bashi would soon produce for us an LP. We’re ready for more than “just the tip,” Kishi Bashi, and we’ll be eagerly awaiting a larger body of work.
— Christina Warner, Editor-in-Chief