Flash Review: AdHoc presents Ichiko Aoba

By Niko Van Eimeren

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

photo by Niko Van Eimeren

Deep connection to nature is a ubiquitous theme in Ichiko Aoba’s music, from her 2018 performance, Ichiko Aoba Plays Live on a Rock to her latest studio album Windswept Adan. At her recent performance at National Sawdust, the crowd could feel nature’s presence throughout the night. Aoba’s soft whistling mimicked the sounds of birds chirping and her serene music drifted through space as if it were floating atop gentle waves in the ocean.

photo by Niko Van Eimeren

The energy in the venue was one of quiet anticipation. As we slowly filed inside from a line that wrapped around the corner, our chit-chat hardly raised above a low murmur. Looking up from the main floor, I saw a row of faces peering over the balcony, watching the rest of us as we all settled into place for the night.

photo by Niko Van Eimeren

Aoba began her set motioning for the crowd to take a seat on the ground. Gathered around the low stage, fans rested their elbows along the edge, holding hands or leaning into one another as she played. She performed pieces from throughout her discography, pausing to utter soft, barely audible vocalizations and seemingly tuning her voice as one would tune a guitar. The notes echoed above our heads, intertwining with meditative chords and expanding to fill every corner of the room. As soft blue and purple lights swept across the stage, the crowd appeared as if they were sitting on the seafloor, where sunlight streams through the rolling waves above.

photo by Niko Van Eimeren

Before her last song, a fan passed Aoba a bouquet of flowers from the front row. She accepted graciously and balanced them in her lap just behind her guitar, sitting down to close out her set. We all left the venue in a post-dreamlike trance, slowly coming back to reality with each car whizzing by on the street. If you have the chance to catch Ichiko Aoba live, I couldn’t recommend it enough. We’ll all be eagerly awaiting whatever she dreams up next.

This article is a part of our Flash Review series, which is dedicated to capturing the specific embodied experience of a performance in National Sawdust's space. Live performance can often feel fleeting or ephemeral, but we hope these reviews allow you to return to that moment and enable you to listen deeper. What did you miss the first time around? How can you better appreciate the music through someone else's lens? More than anything, our Flash Reviews are an invitation to remember together. If you've ever been moved by a performance in our space, we hope you'll consider writing about it for us. Email boxoffice@nationalsawdust.org for more info.

Niko Van Eimeren is a freelance music photographer and journalist based in Brooklyn. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, attending shows, and overbaking her cakes.