On Saturday, Celebrate Brooklyn! screened the 1931 version of the classic film Dracula, complete with a live score by the Philip Glass Ensemble. Although the dark clouds hovered ominously as they did during the last time Celebrate Brooklyn! screened the film, the introductory performance by Kishi Bashi managed to chase the storm away.
Kishi Bashi, the solo project of violinist Kaoro Ishibashi, rushed onstage clad in a white tuxedo and shimmering bleach-blonde hair. In a manner similar to the live performances of Andrew Bird and Owen Pallett, Ishibashi began his performance with short blips of wails and violin riffs looping throughout the song, “Evalyn, Summer Has Arrived.”
Joining Ishibashi for the live performance was Tall Tall Trees‘ Mike Savino on the “banjotron,” and later during “Chester Burst Over The Hamptons,” Elizabeth Ziman on percussion. Together, the trio of musicians burst with energy despite the formal seating arrangements in the audience. Nonetheless, Ishibashi and co. made up for the flaws in the seating arrangement. Prior to performing “Chester Burst Over The Hamptons,” Kishi Bashi warned the crowd the song would end in chaos. Throughout the song, Ishibashi happily danced around in a hop-skip manner like an energetic wind-up toy, encouraging hand claps from the crowd. The trio kept its promise of chaos, toying with the loop controls in order to bend the instruments’ pitches in such radical proportions that all anyone could hear was quick-tempo, chipmunk dissonance.
Although the focus was the performance’s music, Ishibashi’s quirky personality and idiosyncrasies colored the event in a humorous manner. He danced manicly during “It All Began With A Burst,” telling the crowd, “I’m not on drugs, I’m just having a good time.” In an ode to Philip Glass and his minimalistic compositions, Ishibashi attempted an improvised solo—he lasted about a minute. Afterwards, Ishibashi joked that that’s what you should expect from improv, seguing to his closing song, “Manchester.”
The musically inclined crowd at the Celebrate Brooklyn! screening ranged from high school kids still in their musical discovery stages to twenty-somethings to elderly donors of Celebrate Brooklyn!. At the end, everyone stood up to give Ishibashi a grand standing ovation—it didn’t matter that Kishi Bashi was merely an opening act. For the performance to win over the favor of such a range of familiar and unfamiliar audience members demonstrates both the musical genius of Ishibashi, as well as the craft of the Celebrate Brooklyn! curation committee. The sun had set by the time Kishi Bashi finished its performance, and with the musician’s departure from the stage, the screening of Dracula began, each moment brought to life by the stark and expansive sounds of the Philip Glass Ensemble.
Photos by Suyi Tay.