Front woman Michelle Zauner is from Eugene (Oregon) so seeing Japanese Breakfast at the Holocene in Portland meant a sold out show and a packed guest list. The “Beaver state” is Zauner’s homestead and a place were she crafted Psychopomp, however the majority of her musical portfolio was created in Philadelphia. There she was a member of more than a few indie bands and where she dwells today. Supporting her on the tour was another band from Philadelphia, Mannequin Pussy, whom I highly recommend catching in concert as well.
Zauner entered the stage in lit up sneakers and a chic, contemporary stark white two-piece. She opened the set with “Diving Women” and then went into “In Heaven,” a track that opened up her debut album. She continued to rage through her small catalogue playing mostly tracks from the new album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet. This was my second time seeing Zauner this year at the same venue so I’m quite familiar with her on-stage mannerisms. This time, she did a little repeat performance and told a story about getting so inebriated at her bachelorette party in Portland that she got kicked out of a strip club…
While Psychopomp deals with the heaviest of all issues – death, Soft Sounds from Another Planet not only goes in a different direction lyrically but also incorporates way more synth and has a heavy dance quality to it. Zauner herself took to cutting a rug to more than a few tracks during her set. However, guitars are definitely the protagonists of the album. The 90s shoegaze that she first gained popularity for is still ever present. Zauner managed to do something noteworthy with her sophomore record and not only maintained her foundational sound but grew and evolved through the lyrics and concept of the album.
Once the set wraped up, she immediately headed down to the merch table to personally thank, sign, and greet all of her fans, something I don’t see very often. After getting my tote signed I told her how impressing it was that she came right down here, she replied with “Of course, it’s my band, where else would I be?”