Japanese Breakfast an absolute treat at the Mill

Oregon-based band Japanese Breakfast delivered an excellent performance last night.


Katie Goodale

Michelle Zauner, lead singer for Japanese Breakfast, performs during Japanese Breakfast’s performance at The Mill on Sept. 19, 2018. Japanese Breakfast is an alternative band that has released two albums; Psychopomp and Soft Sounds from Another Planet.

Naomi Hofferber, Arts Editor

On the evening of Sept. 19, Oregon-based band Japanese Breakfast served up a delectable set at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St.

Michelle Zauner, the powerhouse vocalist and intimate songwriter behind the band, is in the process of touring, and she will play shows in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon, as well as a set at Austin City Limits. She is taking time after her latest release, <em>Soft Sounds From Another Planet</em>, before she begins making any plans for a new album.

“I don’t want to make a record just to have something to tour on,” Zauner said.

She started making music when she was 16, doing it on the side through college. She was influenced by the Pacific Northwest sounds of such bands as Modest Mouse and Death Cab for Cutie. While her parents didn’t support it as a viable career path, Zauner said, it was an outlet for her nervous, creative energy.

“Music helped soothe that; it’s cathartic,” she said. “[Music] gives me a sense of purpose and helps me concentrate.”

Her latest album is a self-reflection on grief following the death of her mother, combined with themes of space and disassociation. Her ghostly voice floats over synthy sounds with infectious beats.

While “all my songs are my little children,” Zauner said, she particularly enjoyed “Roadhead” as well as “Boyish” and “Till Death.”

The Sept. 19 sold-out show began with an acceptable appetizer of Montréal-based Ought, the musical offspring of the Kooks, the Shins, and recent Arctic Monkeys. Ought served a set that, while occasionally was all too forgettable, was occasionally pleasurable. Rolling drums and an insistent guitar contradicted slow crooner vocals that filled the cozy venue.

With an alien synth, Zauner and the band was beamed onto the stage to the shouts from the audience. Tender vocals melted over hypnotic guitar floated over the packed Mill. While the opening songs fed the audience’s hunger, the overflow of excitement at the opening sounds of “Roadhead” created a palpable tension in the air. The band delivered with a power and energy that changed the tone of the evening, adding a bolt of electricity to the evening.

Zauner went from soft feminine wails to a low rumble of a voice, joking with the audience about reality shows and Super Mario Bros., keeping the vibe comfortable and close so she could wail on songs, scream into the mic, jump up and down, and give whatever she wanted to.

Japanese Breakfast put on the type of show that hit with personal, relatable lyrics and amped the audience up until no one stood still. It was a full serving that left listeners hungry for even more.