by Saiba Haque, Deputy Editor(Food) The Croft
Japanese Breakfast braced us Bristolians with their performance at the Marble Factory on the 20th of October. The opening act for the night was a New York based band, Barrie. The performance heavily encapsulated the ethereal indie-synth-pop vibe and warmed up the crowd very well. Most songs in their setlist encapsulated the ‘New York City’ Sound perfectly; Especially their songs ‘Frankie’, ‘Concrete’ and ‘Quarry’. which remains to be some of my favourites since that night. The band also incorporated a theatrically graceful choreography routine into their set, which worked immensely well for the act. They also joked that the Bristol crowd is better than the crowd in London. They are definitely a band to look out for if you are into the indie-synth-pop sound.
In between the sets, I managed to go closer to the front near the stage/fence, which was definitely a first for me. Japanese Breakfast is on tour for their album Jubilee. Hence most songs performed throughout the night were from the Jubilee album with a few songs from the Psychopomp album and the Soft Sounds from Another Planet album being sprinkled throughout the set. As the crowd waited with anticipation, and the instruments were being brought onto the stage, many couldn’t help but feel a sense of curiosity and wonder, as the Gong (instrument) got brought into the stage. “She’s really gonna do it!” I soliloquised internally, “She’s gonna use the gong for Paprika, in front of us!”. Spoiler: she did, very enthusiastically indeed.
Right from the start, Michelle Zauner’s (Lead singer) presence on the stage was mesmerising and ethereal to say the least. Her outfit was perfectly imperfect and flowing. They started off their set with the first track from the Jubilee album, "Paprika" (As they should!). Not only is it the perfect Intro track to an album it is also the perfect opening song for their live performance, as it perfectly encapsulates the feeling of euphoria and pure unadulterated joy that comes from sharing ones artistic endeavours. Definitely one of the live renditions from the night that I cherish most!
The band continued the night by performing Be sweet from the same album, and then changed their course of action by playing In Heaven and The Woman that Loves You from Psychopomp. They then returned to their touring album for more mellow crowd pleasers like ‘Kokomo’ and ‘Tactics’. The mellow and sombre city pop sound of Tactics resonated extremely well on stage evoking a severe sense of nostalgia and yearning. To continue with this theme, they went back to their 2017 album Soft Sounds from Another Planet for Road Head Which turned out to be a hypnotic crowd pleaser. The band would continue to alternate between their albums for the rest of the night, focusing mainly on Jubilee. Michelle also conversed with the crowd throughout the show and mentioned her admiration for Final Fantasy and other games, whilst also mentioning their work on the Sable (videogame) soundtrack. They then went on to play the song ‘Glider’ for us from the soundtrack and went back to playing their album-centred songs soon after.
Another performance that really stood out to me was ‘Posing in Bondage’ from Jubilee. Although I was sceptical about whether this song would translate well live, as it has a lot to hold up to from its studio recording. But I was so glad that the transformative, vibrant and effervescent elements of the song fleshed out immensely well in the live rendition.
As they came back for the encore, one of my most beloved tracks from Jubilee (aside from every other song of course) came into fruition right in from of my eyes. This happened very dramatically, as one band member after another would start re-entering the stage as new instrumentals start to get introduced into the track. The build up of this performance was immaculate and striking as the song crescendo’s with a vibrant and soul-searching guitar solo in the end. Now this, for me, would have been the perfect end to the show. However, they chose to go on and perform Diving Woman as their final song; Which although I like very much, I still couldn’t help but shake the feeling that Posing in Bondage is the perfect ending song, not only for the Jubilee album, but also for the show.
From last week’s performance by Japanese breakfast, I was left completely overjoyed and filled with glee throughout the whole set. Their live renditions performed effortlessly well and were just as amazing as their studio recording. I started listening to them in my first year of University. It’s now my third year, and feels immensely poetic that I got the chance to witness this band live after being introduced to it by a friend two years ago (Hi Leah).
Interestingly so, this was my first time going to a concert fully on my own, with no company. It was somewhat intimidating at first, but as the night went on, I felt less alone; I looked around the crowd and witnessed them feeling the same feeling of unadulterated joy resulting from the same performance, which made for a great collective experience. So if you’re thinking of going to the concert by yourself, by all means, do it! Other than that, do check out their music, and I would highly recommend seeing them next time they are in town.
Listen to Japanese Breakfast here:
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