Sound problems hurt Goast of a Saber Tooth Tiger, while Kishi Bashi loosens up.
Last night, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger played downtown at One Eyed Jacks while Kishi Bashi performed Uptown at Gasa Gasa. My night started with the plan of trying to see both. I’ve generally liked Sean Lennon’s music, and Midnight Sun, the recent album by the band, is beautifully psychedelic and heavy. Unfortunately, live GOATT (as the band name is abbreviated on the album cover) wasn’t as heavy as I hoped, and Lennon sounded as if he was singing into a coffee can when his vocals could be distinguished. I wonder if he and partner in the project Charlotte Kemp Muhl are simply quiet singers with soft singing voices, but right in front of the soundboard, vocals remained an issue except during the louder moments, and the sound as a whole lacked impact. The sound wasn’t so wrong that I had to leave, but I didn’t think what I was hearing sounded the way the band thought it did onstage.
Gasa Gasa was violin player/looper Kishi Bashi’s fourth venue in four visits to the city, and it was easily the most sympathetic. Last year’s One Eyed Jacks show presented him at his most theatrical - perhaps because of the stage - but the closeness of him and his band to the packed house created the most energy I’ve seen at one of his shows. He still built songs by layering violin and vocal parts, asking a fair amount from the crowd when he worked through the indie prog “Hahaha Pt. 1” and Hahaha Pt. 2” from his upcoming album, Lighght. With the exception of a few talkers - fair, as midnight approached when presented with unfamiliar material - the crowd was with him throughout.
Kishi Bashi clearly enjoyed the buzz in the room and loosened up as much as a man wearing a bowtie can loosen up. The encore of “Bright Whites” and “It All Began with a Burst” had a raw immediacy that I hadn’t seen created by an artist working with loops, particularly when he separated the two with a cover of “Live and Let Die.” Admittedly, he also had a three-piece band behind him for much of the set and all of the encore, so he had some sonic help, but it was nice to see that the musical process doesn’t have to be a constraint.