It hasnt been long since Japanese Breakfast was in town last. Their previous show here was just over six months ago. Since then, the band fronted by Michelle Zauner has nabbed a handful of grammy nominations, and has gone on to perform on SNL, Coachella, and a string of shows throughout North America. Tonight they were back to another sold-out First Avenue mainroom.
Japanese Breakfast has always been good about their openers. Their last show at the mainroom introduced us to violinist and Tik-Tok Sensation Luna Li, and tonight, The Linda Lindas opened for the band. Right from the first song, the LA punk band took First Avenue by storm. It’s been a long time since ive seen an opening act this strong, fast, and loud. And it was evident that it took many fans by surprise as well. Seeing the mainroom this packed for an opener, Even on a Monday, is an achievement for sure. But that’s nothing new for The Linda Lindas. They’ve been selling out venues on their own across the country the last few months, including their home turf at LA’s Troubadour. Last spring, their video of Racist, Sexist Boy filmed at an LA Library went viral, catching the attention and admiration of Flea, Tom Morello, and Carrie Brownstien. All accolades any punk band would want from cardinals of the genre. But if that wasn’t impressive enough, all four members of the band are only teenagers, the oldest being 17, and the youngest at 11 years old. This tour is their summer vacation, and that’s going to be one hell of a thing to share on the first day of school.
The band released their debut album Growing Up back in April, which took up the bulk of their setlist, Including the albums title track, Oh! And their now well known, Racist, Sexist Boy. Dancing along with them were children (and their parents) around the same age, with bright pink earmuffs and x’s on their hands. Perhaps at the behest of their kids, parents brought their children to the show just for The Linda Lindas to show them what’s possible at a young age. The Linda Lindas have a big difference in sound from Japanese Breakfast, but a high energy, teenage punk band fit really well as an opener, and if the audience’s reaction was any indication, both in the crowd and from the line to their merch table, they’ll be selling out the mainroom on their own very soon.
When Japanese Breakfast was here back in September, frontwoman Michelle Zauner wanted to “put on the best, ideal show” she told us last night “But I ended up crying in the parking lot behind the building, upset that I didn’t think we did it.” The moment of honesty she had onstage with us came with applause when she said “My band said ‘dont worry, we’ll be back’. And here we are. And you sold it out on a Monday night.’’ Myself and many others in the crowd for both shows had no complaints on her last show here, But it’s hard to imagine the lengths an artist will go for perfection, to make sure we don’t have those complaints as an audience. If their last show here wasn’t perfect – This one was.
Japanese Breakfast has been on the Jubilee tour for quite some time now, going on almost a full year on the road and nearing 100 shows. While there hasnt been a new release from the band since their last album (sans a video game soundtrack the band released just after their last show in Minneapolis) there were a few switch-ups in the setlist. Of course, Paprika, Be Sweet and Everybody Wants to Love You were upbeat, fan favorites in the set, as well as some of the more slower, chilled out atmospheric songs like Posing in Bondage, and Posing for Cars. Heft from 2014’s Where Is My Great Big Feeling? Also made the setlist, “We brought this one out of retirement” Michelle said before performing. Another rarity was a song called Glide which was off of the Sable soundtrack I mentioned earlier. Glide debuted at the last Japanese Breakfast show at First Ave, and made it’s return to the venue last night. Husband and guitarist Peter Bradley was a master of his telecaster, bringing songs to life and adding a more guitar focused element to songs like Savage Good Boy. and Body like a Blade. Saxophonist Adam Schatz also added surreal, droned out vibes to songs like Machinist and Posing in Bondage.
While Japanese Breakfast may be just another outlet for Michelle Zauner’s seemingly endless faucet of creativity (She’s also directed a handful of music videos and has a New York Times Best Seller out in the world that she is also in the process of scripting into a feature film) She’s put a lot of effort into her musical ability. Jubilee sounds like a movie soundtrack in and of itself, thanks to the vast musical styles the album holds.Combined with the band’s previous 6 musical releases, ranging from EP’s to actual soundtracks, There’s a lot to be a fan of when it comes to Japanese Breakfast and the people behind it. It’s a no brainer they were welcomed back to First Avenue with open arms – And will absolutely continue to be.