The week’s best concerts: Kishi Bashi, Morrissey, Seun Kuti

June 5, 2014

Kishi Bashi. (Photo by Jennifer Leigh Photography)

Kishi Bashi

As a kid, Kaoru Ishibashi learned to play the violin, but instead of becoming a classical virtuoso, he became Kishi Bashi, fiddler-for-hire with such indie acts as Regina Spektor and Of Montreal. He's also a solo artist, and his second album, the intentionally misspelled "Lighght," was released last month. Although Kishi Bashi plays guitar, keyboards and electronics, the violin is still central to his arrangements. He uses loops, delays and other effects to alter and magnify the instrument's sound. "Lighght" includes some brief improvisations and other experimental moments, but the violinist is just as likely to emulate the string-driven power-pop of ELO. Such buoyant new songs as "Carry on Phenomenon" and "The Ballad of Mr. Steak" are flashbacks to '70s prog-pop — epic yet sugary. Kishi Bashi doesn't neglect his ancestral homeland. Two tunes on "Lighght" feature Japanese-language choruses, and the album's tinkly timbres and intricate harmonies show the influence of Tokyo's Shugo Tokumaru. But Kishi Bashi's style owes just as much to his current base: Athens, Ga., where an eclectic alt-rock scene has long thrived around the University of Georgia. Indeed, Kishi Bashi's style could be called college-town pop: worldly, smart and homey.
With Buried Beds on Sunday at the 9:30 Club. Doors open at 6 p.m. 202-265-0930. www.930.com. $20.

— Mark Jenkins

 Listen: Kishi Bashi's "The Ballad of Mr. Steak"

Morrissey

Update: The concerts at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and the Lincoln Theatre have been postponed. The Baltimore show will now be held on June 24; Morrissey's concert at the Lincoln will be June 25. 

"Will he show or won't he?" That's the guessing game fans of the cancellation-prone Morrissey, former frontman of the heavily influential English rock band the Smiths, have played for years. In fact, just a week before his D.C. and Baltimore shows, the singer canceled a date in Atlanta due to illness. Let's hope the always outspoken Moz will battle the bug and make it to the capital of the free world. With a new album, "World Peace Is None of Your Business," due out in July, he's likely to have plenty to say about how things are run here. After all, this is the man who once told America "where you can shove your hamburger."


Morrissey. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz, File)

As any fan can attest, however, the real connection with the maudlin crooner comes not necessarily from common political beliefs, but from shared misery. His new album, with such song titles as "Earth Is the Loneliest Planet" and "Kick the Bride Down the Aisle," is sure to have that in spades, and Moz will certainly test the new material in performance. But Morrissey knows his fans, so he'll surely play such mopey solo classics as "Now My Heart Is Full" and "The World Is Full of Crashing Bores" along with such Smiths tunes as "I Know It's Over" and "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me." Tuesday at Baltimore's Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Doors open at 7 p.m. 410-783-8100. www.bsomusic.org. Wednesday at the Lincoln Theatre. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. 202-888-0050. www.thelincolndc.com. Both shows are sold out.

— Brandon Weigel

Listen: Morrissey's "Earth is the Loneliest Planet"

Seun Kuti

Seun Kuti. (Photo by Johann Sauty)
Seun Kuti. (Photo by Johann Sauty)

Seun Kuti, the youngest son of the late Afrobeat icon Fela Kuti, began performing in his father's band when he was just a child. But only within the past decade has the Nigerian musician, now 31, come into his own as a performer. Chalk it up to nerves, maybe. He had some lofty standards to live up to. Seun's music is just as energetic and politically charged as his father's, but a little more concise, with songs generally wrapping up at about eight minutes, tops. Like his brother and fellow musician Femi Kuti, Seun has worked hard to establish a singular identity within the framework of the family business, often by tweaking Afrobeat's time-honored tropes with a few well-curated modern flourishes. His latest album, "A Long Way to the Beginning," features some breathy keyboard playing from jazz pianist Robert Glasper, but Seun's music is best experienced in concert, where he has fewer inhibitions about stretching things out. He continues to record and perform with his father's band, Egypt 80, which is still mostly Fela-era musicians, and the live sets feature a mix of original compositions and his dad's greatest hits. Wednesday at the Howard Theatre. Show starts at 8 p.m. 202-803-2899. www.thehowardtheatre.com. $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

— Aaron Leitko 

 Listen: Seun Kuti's "IMF" (Explicit lyrics)

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