At this point, it’s safe to say that Japanese Breakfast is no longer just a curious side project of Little Big League’s Michelle Zauner. On night 1 of her headlining tour across America (and soon, Europe), Zauner explained that opening for other artists like Slowdive and Mitski has been great, but headlining in support of her well-received sophomore album Soft Sounds from Another Planet is even greater. "I've felt like a bridesmaid for the last year and a half - that's why I'm wearing white tonight." Originally conceived as a space-themed concept album, Soft Sounds retained some of those original ideas in the synths of "Road Head" and Auto-Tuned vocals in "Machinist,” among others. Those extensions of her sound gained her an even larger audience and allowed her to graduate from Black Cat’s Backstage to the 1000-capacity Mainstage.
Zauner and company performed with earnestness and confidence, but not everything went without a hitch on night 1. After set opener “Diving Woman” and near the encore, the band experienced sound problems. Zauner played it off by sharing her day's events (including visiting the Air and Space Museum and playing an NPR Tiny Desk Concert). She apologized profusely, but the crowd was more than supportive of her as she tried to make the best of the unfortunate situation. Making the night memorable on a positive note was the fact that she brought the DC-based string quartet Rogue Collective on stage to play two songs alongside her band, including on a particularly emotional "Til Death." Near the end of the set, both Zauner and her drummer remained on stage while the others exited so the duo could play a stripped-down performance of “Triple 7” on guitar and keys. It was a heartfelt performance that was hilariously followed by "a song about giving head," "Everybody Wants to Love You,” where everybody sang along until sound problems forced Zauner to abandon the song halfway through. But if her fans can be highly supportive at the start of her national (and soon, international) tour in times like those, then things are looking pretty good for her in the long run. Her latest album Soft Sounds from Another Planet is out now through Dead Oceans.
Opening for Japanese Breakfast was shoegaze punk band Mannequin Pussy, who put on a ferocious performance of 1-2 minute-long songs, and Spirit of the Beehive, a group that effortlessly flipped between Mac DeMarco-like laid back guitar licks and intense thrashing in the blink of an eye. Mannequin Pussy’s latest album Romantic is out now via Tiny Engines, and Spirit of the Beehive’s latest album pleasure suck is also out now through Tiny Engines.