Soft Sounds from Another Planet has touched down on Earth.
I arrive at Mash House on a Saturday night to a nearly empty venue. Two talented supporting bands, Super Inuit and Night Flowers, take the stage and as each act goes on, the room steadily fills. By the time it is Japanese Breakfast’s turn to take the stage, it is nearly a full house.
Japanese Breakfast is touring in support of their new album Soft Sounds from Another Planet. They open the show with the first track off this album entitled ‘Diving Woman’. This almost ambient song foreshadows the tones of the record. Immediately the crowd is bobbing along. Next the band throws in two of their more popular songs from their first album, Psychopomp. These songs are 'In Heaven’ and ‘The Woman that Loves You’.
The vocals of lead singer and mastermind of the band, Michelle Zauner, radiate throughout the crowd. Matched with the sonic instrumentation, the result is a hypnotically unique sound. The talent of this four-piece band is undeniable.
With the band grooving and the songs flowing, the crowd is almost involuntarily dancing along. A shift in tone comes about three-quarters of the way into the show. Saying they are going to slow things down, the four-piece band reduces to a two-piece. This leaves only Zauner and drummer Craig Hendrix. In this manner, they play three songs, including the standout ‘Till Death’. Zauner introduces ‘Till Death’ as a song about marriage, bad things that happen in life and how they are made manageable by having someone to go through it with. The beauty of these songs captivates the audience. Though more calm and even melancholy, the crowd stays enveloped by the sound.
In a sudden and clever change, the four-piece band retakes the stage and Japanese Breakfast breaks into their most popular song, ‘Everybody Wants to Love You’. Instantly the crowd is dancing again. As the closing song the band plays a more experimental track, ‘Machinist’. This song is about a woman falling in love with a robot. Though this song is more experimental, it is somehow the perfect way to end this other-worldly show. By the end of the show, those soft sounds from another planet have been brought firmly down to Earth.
It was a fun and groovy show and the band’s energy was high. Between song banter was kept brief, but not too brief as to prevent Zauner from telling jokes. These included trying out her best Scottish accent and informing us on the band’s touring vices (simulated farming games for some and math for others). At some point in her jokes, Zauner seems to get embarrassed, wondering why she is sharing so much. She claims its because this is one of the first crowds on their European tour to laugh at her jokes. These funny, simple ramblings are enough to make the crowd laugh and the show just that more enjoyable. After each mini-introduction, the band goes directly back into their sonic trip.
From the supporting bands, to the incredible talent of Japanese Breakfast, this show is one I am glad I did not miss.