By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: There are certain shows that you look forward to more than others. When you've seen as many shows as we have at The Busted Amp, it's just the nature of the game. Friday night was one of those nights. Joseph, my partner and co-founder here at The Busted Amp (finally) moved back to Cincinnati from Nashville. Kishi Bashi was the first show on our calendar that we'd be attending together, thus beginning a new chapter of collaboration and joint perspective that I fully look forward to exploring in the year ahead.
Joseph and I have both seen Kishi Bashi on multiple occasions in the past, and we agreed that his latest album Sonderlust was one of the best of 2016. I was very excited to hear the new material in a live setting and how the songs have evolved in the year since the album was released.
The band started the set by performing a few songs from 151a acoustically to celebrate the album's 5th anniversary. including "Bright Whites" and "Beat the Bright Out of Me". The remainder of the show was a pretty standard overview of their three albums to date. The one thing that stuck out to me the most was the surprising lack of emphasis on looping, especially on songs from Sonderlust. In the past, K has used looping for a majority of songs, and oftentimes they are the backbone that drives the song forward. This time, however, looping was used more as an accent than as a centerpiece. Because of this, the set felt much more like a rock show than anything that I've experienced from him in the past.
Speaking of rock shows, Kishi Bashi has been known to throw classic rock covers into their sets, and tonight they played a face melting version of the Styx classic "Come Sail Away" with their merch person dressed up in a giant steak outfit. Yes, Mr. Steak sang Styx and it was fantastic.
The encore was another highlight for me, K and his band performed "Manchester" and "Atticus, In The Desert" acoustically in the middle of the pit, surrounded by fans singing at the top of their lungs. It was a cool, intimate moment that I won't soon forget.
Joseph: It's good to be back in Cincinnati and alongside my partner-in-crime Derek for these shows. Looking back at the hundreds of shows I've seen I was surprised to discover that I've only actually seen Kishi Bashi once, though the personal memories I have of the band far outweigh that one performance. Kishi Bashi's music has really stuck with me over the years, and I was giddy with excitement to see him live for only the second time. Despite lofty expectations, he did not disappoint.
While I share many of the same feelings Derek had, he didn't talk about the opener for Kishi Bashi in Tall Tall Trees. This band is a refreshingly original take on indie-folk, and frontman (and basically solo artist) Mike Savino is a very unique banjo player. While Savino is also the banjo/utility player for Kishi Bashi, but with Tall Tall Trees he's really given the chance to be himself. Savino utilizes a wide array of tools to create different sounds on the banjo, and his latest album, Freedays, is arguably is best album to date. Fortunately the sounds of this album transfer pretty well live, though there were times where the 20th Century Theater's sound system simply couldn't handle the sounds Savino was making. The mix could have been better, but I can hardly blame the venue for not building a sound system built around someone as unique as Tall Tall Trees.
While some of these sound deficiencies persisted into Kishi Bashi's set, none of it was even remotely enough to deter from the overall experience. Both Tall Tall Trees and Kishi Bashi put on great shows, and memories like dancing along with Mr. Steak while singing "Come Sail Away" or watching K. get into the crowd for an intimate encore are some of the better memories I have of all the live shows I've seen. I actually teared up during his acoustic rendition of "Manchester." It was beauty in its purest form. Even though I personally love his looping and was slightly disappointed that he didn't do it more, his rock show vibe still had all the energy it needed and then some. I cannot emphasize this enough: Kishi Bashi puts on one of the coolest shows you'll see, and when Tall Tall Trees opens for him? Forget about it. It doesn't get much better than that. Let's keep this roll of good live shows going, 2017.
By: Derek Jung
The neo-outlaw country and anti-Nashville establishment movement continues to grow at a monumental pace. Amongst main players like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell are musicians like Margo Price who are only in the early chapters of their rise. Margo's debut album, Midwest Farmer's Daughter was one of my favorite albums of 2016, and I was very excited to hear the material live. The Third Man Records artist made a stop in Cincinnati on the night of the Acacdemy of Country Music Awards, one of the most establishment country music awards of the year. With that as the backdrop for her show, she showed why her brand of country music is the real deal.
I was immediately struck not only by Margo's stage presence, resembling country legends Tammy Wynette or Loretta Lynn, the latter of which she confessed to have worked with the day before recording some new material, but also the talent of her backing band, The Pricetags, who brought each song to the next level with ease.
In typical country music fashion, Margo treated the crowd to a nice selection of covers, including "Me and Bobby McGee" by Kris Kristofferson and a cover from her former band Buffalo Clover. She also performed two new songs that will be on her upcoming album, including my favorite "It's Ain't Drunk Driving If You're Riding a Horse".
During the show, she thanked us for coming instead of watching the ACMs, adding that "[we] made the right choice".
Yes, we did.
By: Derek Jung
In terms of soothing voices, my wife and I both agree that nothing compares to to relaxing sounds of Norah Jones. Touring on her new album, Day Breaks, she made a stop at the beautiful Taft Theater in Cincinnati. The packed house felt more like an intimate coffee shop, dead silent and in awe of one of the greatest singer-songwriters of our generation.
Norah was mostly business during the show, only briefly making some awkward banter with the crowd. She commented that it was cold, and corrected herself a song later that it wasn't cold in the theater, but outside. It was warm when they left New York City and none of them had packed jackets.
She began the night with a surprising cover of Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows", which, for those who are familiar with Cohen's original, sounded great featuring Jones and her piano. The rest of the evening was filled with songs spanning her entire discography, but with obvious focus on three albums in particular: her multi-platinum debut Come Away With Me, her sophomore full length Feels Like Home, and the aforementioned Day Breaks. From time to time she would switch instruments, beginning at her piano, then later moving to a stand up keyboard and finally playing acoustic and electric guitar.
Combined with her backing band, songs from the new album, specifically my favorite, "Flipside" really popped in the live environment. Speaking of her backing band, they were also the opening band, Aloysius 3. While they didn't do much for me on their own, they definitely brought Norah's songs to the next level.
If you ever get the opportunity to see her live, it is well worth it. Grab a glass of wine, sit, relax, and enjoy.
Check out her perforamnce of "Flipside" on The Tonight Show below.
By: Derek Jung
When you enter as many contests and giveaways as I do, the law of averages eventually catches up with you and you win something. That happened yesterday when I won a ticket for an in studio performance of Fitz & the Tantrums from the local alternative radio station The Project 100.7/106.3. I haven't been particularly hot on the group in the past few months, their latest self-titled release was pretty mediocre and their performance at Madison Theater last year was lifeless. That being said, I was excited to see them in such an intimate space and hear what they sound like stripped down without the pop showiness.
About twenty of us were ushered into the seated performance space, a rather bland space compared to Studio 89 at WNKU, but still nice and cozy. Besides Michael and Noelle, only Joseph the bassist (playing guitar) and Jeremy the keyboardist were present for the showcase. After a brief introduction from KISS 107.1 FM DJ Kristie, who was either visibly nervous or strung out on way too much caffeine, the band played a selection of singles from their self-titled album and More Than Just A Dream. Without all of the production additions that turned me off of the newer singles, there are some really catchy hooks underneath. "Rollup", my favorite off the new album, was great stripped down and even "Handclap" was tolerable.
The problem with being in such an intimate environment is that it can be awkward for both the band and the audience. Most in attendance aren't used to being right in front of their musical idols and it's especially evident for those who like to blend in with the crowd and just stand there. Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle are very high energy performers, and dancing and choreography are big parts of their on stage personas. There is a certain expectation that people groove and dance to their music. There wasn't a whole lot of that because we were all seated, so the energy levels were off. This isn't the fault of the band or those in attendance. I'd argue it was mostly the environment.
After a few short Q&A sessions we all got the chance to have our pictures taken with the band. Nothing really revolutionary came from the questions. Noelle is a foodie (although she doesn't like that term). Michael Fitzpatrick loves artisanal coffee and his favorite album is Michael Jackson's Off the Wall. He's also expecting his wife to go into labor any day now. Jeremy likes Star Wars and can do a pretty decent Wookiee noise.
Check out a slideshow photo album of the show by clicking here.
By: Derek Jung
It's a rare occasion when Joseph and I get to see the same band within such a short span of time. He was able to see St. Paul and the Broken Bones at the legendary Ryman Auditorium last month. On Friday, I had the pleasure of seeing them at Madison Theater, their first show in Cincinnati since their capacity crowd show at the Taft Theater Ballroom during Midpoint Music Festival in 2014. Similarly to that show, Friday's show was sold out. The band is touring off their great new album, Sea of Noise, and I was eagerly anticipating hearing the new material live.
One thing I knew to expect was the antics of lead singer Paul Janeway, easily the heart and soul of the band with some of the best pipes that I've heard in a live setting ever. The dude can flat out belt it, and he knows it to. Therein lies the problem. A lot of his stage performance consists of him responding to the cheering of the crowd, and he makes sure to take out his earpiece after most songs to bask in that glorious, glorious applause. Nothing wrong with feeding off the energy of the crowd, but I couldn't help but get the feeling that it was a constant ego trip for Janeway, but I could be wrong. He was, of course, brilliant, and the new material sounded absolutely fantastic. My favorite song on the album, "All I Ever Wonder" popped on stage. Many songs sounded like church, a bonafide spiritual experience (see: "Sanctify" and set closer "Burning Rome").
I still think some of their ballads, especially from their debut album, can drag after a while, but that is a rather nitpicky criticism from what was a solid performance from the band.
Check out their performance of "All I Ever Wonder" from Later... with Jools Holland below.
By: Derek Jung
Nearly a year after they last played Madison Theater, Shovels & Rope made their return to my beloved Covington, Kentucky music venue for another go around. As I mentioned in that review, Shovels & Rope and I go back before their first album was released, and the band has always had a soft spot in my heart. This show, however, was anything but a triumphant return for the band, and it was a rare weak moment in the five times that I've seen them perform.
When we entered the theater, it became immediately apparent that the heat was entirely too high, and the near capacity crowd did not help matters whatsoever. We found our spot in the crowd and listened to opener John Moreland's set, which was absolutely fantastic. His gritty voice and melancholy lyrics blended perfectly. By the end of his set, he left the stage to rousing applause, and I'm certain that the crowd wouldn't have complained if he'd played longer. I will definitely be checking out his set at Forecastle this summer.
Shovels & Rope took the stage a bit later and charged through songs from their last two albums Little Seeds and Swimmin' Time. From the first note it was obvious that the mix was terrible. The bass drum was so overpowered that it hurt my ears through my musician grade earplugs. Michael Trent's electric guitar was also too loud in the mix, and the combination of the two ruined the new, more rock driven songs. When they finally played something from their debut full length, O' Be Joyful, it was almost too late to save the set for us.
I know Shovels & Rope. I know what they normally sound like. So I'm mostly willing to write this night off as a bad stop on the tour, but I will say that I was not a big fan of the band's most recent release, Little Seeds. I wish they would return to the folk americana sounds of O' Be Joyful, but I also understand that the band's growing success has happened with the newer sound. So, until next time, my friends.
Check out a video of them playing "I Know" on Conan below.
By: Joseph Kathmann
If there's one band who knows how to put on a good show, it's Twenty One Pilots. Seeing one of the biggest bands on the planet in the height of their prime is a hard thing to do, but that's exactly what I managed to do this past Saturday in Memphis. The crowd knew every word of every song, and the atmosphere was intense as almost the entire arena got a 2 hour glimpse of what certainly became their favorite band by the end of the night. While I'm constantly bothered by the fact that there's only two people on stage despite the numerous layers in their music, it's hard to care about that after they've torn through their 20+ song set without so much as a breather.
That said, getting to Twenty One Pilots was something of a chore. The opener, Jon Bellion, was pretty lackluster and just had a 20 minute set, and the initial opener, Judah and the Lion, went on right at doors so we didn't even get a chance to see them. Bellion was pretty lackluster, and after his quick set there was almost an hour's worth of a wait to get to Twenty One Pilots. The crowd was clearly getting antsy by the long wait, but boy where they in for a treat.
You know, I've really been lucky so far this year with my live shows, as both were two of the best shows I've seen for different reasons. St. Paul and the Broken Bones was great because there were a lot of casual fans at that show that were converted to the magic of the band, but Twenty One Pilots don't have many casual fans. Everyone knew every word of every song, and the girls were screaming at the top of their lungs throughout the energy-packed set. Tyler Joseph jumped around all corners of the stage during every song, and Josh Dun plays drums with as much energy as anyone I've ever seen. It's hard not to think of him as one of the best drummers in the music industry today. The band made use of every inch of their stage, filling it with lights, cannons, and video boards. At one point the duo played a few songs from an auxiliary stage at the back of a pit, and the floor light up on this stage. Because of course it did.
Other antics from the band included Josh Dun crowd surfing (a bit, at least) in the pit with his drum set, and the duo closed with "Trees," in the pit. Overall, I think what I found most impressive about the duo was their civility. There's no doubt they are one of the hottest bands on the planet right now, dropping the youngest generation's equivalent an album like The Black Parade in 2015 with Blurryface, but they still came across as authentic, down-to-earth guys. They took plenty of opportunities to thank the opening bands, (despite their short sets) and even let Judah and the Lion frontman Judah Akers a chance to stage dive in one of those giant inflatable bubbles during "Stressed Out." Ultimately, while I went in skeptical of the band's live show because....c'mon. Why are there only two guys on stage? I came out of that show with my questions answered and my skepticism all but gone. Twenty One Pilots are on top of the musical world right now, and their live show is a big reason for that.
By: Derek Jung
I love the Cincinnati music community. I enjoy discovering and listening to local bands, attending shows at local venues, and I'm very proud to support the source of many of those discoveries, WNKU. The station, owned and subsidized by Northern Kentucky University since 2011, has been broadcasting since 1985. Through the years, it has cemented itself deep in the hearts of music and arts lovers all over the area. Earlier this year it was announced that NKU was selling the station to a religious broadcasting company, and the immediate feedback was overwhelming. A petition was created that, at the time of this publication, has amassed over 8,000 signatures. While the sale is still pending, the window of opportunity to listen to the station is closing. As proof of that, WNKU announced that its final in-studio performance would be with beloved local duo Dawg Yawp.
I entered the studio with a mix of excitement and sadness - excited for my first in studio performance at WNKU, but also sad that my first would also be my last. I had never been to the studio before, and I was surprised that it was basically in the same hallway as normal college classrooms. It wasn't exactly the location I was expecting, but nonetheless everyone was very friendly and welcoming. In the waiting room, there was free WNKU swag and CDs that they were giving away because they wouldn't have any more opportunities to do giveaways in the future. I picked up the great new albums from Iggy Pop and Jim James. Soon, we all shuffled into Studio 89, which was draped with lights and had a welcoming, relaxed vibe to it. Unfortunately today the melancholy was palpable and our DJ Liz Felix hardly made it through the introduction before getting teary eyed. We were delighted to hear the band play 7 songs from their new self titled album and a surprise Beatles cover by request of Felix to finish the set. In between songs, Liz interviewed the band and Tyler and Rob told stories about how some songs were written and how the band came into being. You could tell they felt honored to be there and Rob even got emotional while recounting what it was like hearing one of their songs for the first time on the radio (on WNKU no less).
The band's distinct sitar rock was of course well received by the couple dozen people in attendance. The station live streamed the entire performance on Facebook. I've embedded it below. You can also listen to the radio edit with better audio by clicking this link. It was a true honor to be there, and it will be a sad day in Cincinnati history when WNKU finally closes its doors.
By: Joseph Kathmann
Wow. What a show. While this may be my first show of 2017, I think it may be hard for anyone to top it. I do believe the venue played a major part in this, but I think a lot of it was also the band themselves. There's something special about the band's frontman, Paul Janeway, when he takes the stage. Before I knew it, I felt like I was back in the early days of this legendary venue with a rowdy crowd of people looking to de-stress after a hard day's work. When I moved to Nashville almost two years ago, this was what I envisioned the shows would be like.
Following their strong sophomore album, which Derek and I both enjoyed, this tour has been something of a coming out party for the band. The show started with opener William Tyler bringing in some traditional country tunes. It was something of a weak opener, which is a shame because William Tyler has been pretty influential around town in Nashville, but this crowd was simply not his demographic. He was also pretty nervous playing at the Ryman, but by the end of the show his nerves were gone and he played some upbeat country tunes that got the crowd's attention at least for a bit. I think he made the best of his situation, but for most of his set he sadly failed to get the attention of the crowd, and thus they didn't hesitate to talk over his set.
Fortunately, all that changed when St. Paul & The Broken Bones took the stage. The crowd, largely white and of which I was probably the youngest one, initially sat in the bleachers through the first half of the set. It did make for a goosebump-inducing moment when the crowd gave him a standing ovation for "Like a Mighty River," many people, myself included, were getting frustrated with the idea of sitting throughout this high energy-performance. I think Paul Janeway could sense this, and a few times he asked the crowd to get up and dance for a song. While this tactic didn't really work, as the set went on and the band increased their energy levels, they eventually forced the crowd up and then.....it was on. The rowdy energy in the Ryman was undeniable as the crowd cheered and uncontrollably banged on the bleachers throughout the final few songs and the encore, and the band responded to this in kind. It really was pretty awesome to see and be apart of that, and everyone left the show feeling like they had just seen a show at the Mother Church as it was intended. St. Paul & The Broken Bones are a perfect band to see at The Ryman, and even though the crowd was calm at first, the atmosphere eventually took hold and I found myself in the middle of one of the coolest shows I had ever seen.
By: Derek Jung
Acclaimed progressive folk singer-songwriter Ryley Walker returned to Cincinnati for the first time since his much talked about performance at Midpoint Music Festival in 2015 at Woodward Theater. Performing for a crowd of about 35 people, the trio wasted no time slipping into some long, heavy jams. Those jams would be the focus of the set, and the ebb and flow of each song relied heavily on the mood set by the intro jam. In that way, the night was spent covering the highlights from their latest release, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung. I was very impressed to hear how their songs have evolved in a live setting to fill every nook and cranny of the audible spectrum. Songs like "The Halfwit In Me" were transformed by the jam into a wall of sound using guitar triplets from Walker and the second guitarist. The jazz-styled drumming led the way and I found myself mesmerized by his fluidity of playing. The chorus of "Roundabout" popped much more so than on the album version, and it highlighted the quiet/loud dynamics of the song structure. I was happy to hear that Ryley's dry humor translates well from his lyrics to his live personality as well. The band cracked a few jokes in between songs, and Ryley boasted his love for the giant Bearcat Pizzas from Adriatico's.
I was a little disappointed that their set was only around 45 minutes long, but with a smaller crowd on a Monday night, I don't blame them for keeping it short and sweet. Hopefully we will hear some new material from Ryley this year.
Check out a live performance of "The Halfwit In Me" from the World Cafe below.
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: