If most of 2020 (and, let’s face it, most of 2021) was a pressure tank waiting to explode, then the packed house at The Fillmore Silver Spring was the symbolic release Wednesday night as Japanese Breakfast performed to an audience eager for live music. And they certainly got that rush of excitement when, straight off a New York Times bestseller, “Crying in H Mart,” and an acclaimed new album, Jubilee, Michelle Zauner, the creative force behind Japanese Breakfast, kicked off her US Tour with the first stop at The Fillmore.
I think the last time I saw Japanese Breakfast was a couple years back (though, to be quite honest, time seems to be more relative or fluid in 2021) when the band was in Baltimore. And as we entered The Fillmore Silver Spring for the first time in a year and a half it was clear that this was going to be a bigger production than I had seen from Japanese Breakfast before. Not only the bigger stage, but the design and lighting and the fuller sound with the touring addition of Adam Schatz (of Landlady fame on saxophone) and Macie Stewart (of Ohmme on violin) — both of whom worked on the new album — to the band, which includes Peter Bradley (guitar/keys), Deven Craige (bass), and Craig Hendrix (drums/vocals).
Hitting the stage, the band started off their set with songs from the new album. And, I have to admit, as a fan hearing the new songs played live on this stage with the crowd and lights it was a little emotional — good emotional, mind you. Part of it too was hearing these recordings that since their release I’ve shared with my eight year old daughter who has quickly become a fan over the time live music had been effectively put on hold. With the opener, “Paprika,” Michelle danced around emphasizing each verse by striking a gong on the stage — setting the stage with a kinetic energy.
Building on that with the single, “Be Sweet” and then “In Heaven” (a personal fave) the crowd sang along and nodded along to the floating beat. And, although most of the songs were from the Jubilee there were a few other surprises like old fan-favorite “Boyish” (a song that dates back to Michelle’s old band, Little Big League) and “Machinist,” which I don’t recall sounding so transcendent before but I think had an added sonic texture.
Leaving the audience wanting more, the band came back on stage to play “Diving Woman” from the album Soft Sounds from Another Planet, wrapping up what we all hope is the start of a summer of great live music. Certainly a night we’ll all be feeling weeks and months down the road.
Japanese Breakfast just started their tour through the U.S. with a European tour in the Spring of 2022. Definitely catch them near you here.
The setlist included:
The Body Is a Blade
Savage Good Boy
Posing in Bondage
Everybody Wants to Love You
Posing for Cars
Here are some pictures of Japanese Breakfast performing at The Fillmore Silver Spring on July 21, 2021. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.