In a night of dreamscapes and cosmic sounds, Japanese Breakfast played beautifully to a full house at Headrow House in Leeds.
The crowd pressed themselves excitedly towards the front as the packed Headrow House eagerly anticipated the start of Japanese Breakfast’s penultimate show on an extended tour through the US and Europe. Michelle Zauner, previously of indie-rock piece Little Big League, is the mastermind behind the solo project. She’s touring in celebration of her second album creating her beautiful soundscapes, Soft Sounds From Another Planet.
London five-piece Night Flowers opened the night with sometimes peaceful, sometimes upbeat dreampop. Bright tones emanated from a melting haze of sound reminiscent of a rainy day. First up was the simple guitar strum that begins the sweet dreamland of “Sleep.” Not having released any new material since a Christmas EP last year, it’s exciting to hear a slew of songs set to be included on a debut album before the end of the year, as well as the glittering drift of songs like “Glow in the Dark.”
Japanese Breakfast opened their set with Soft Sounds From Another Planet’s opening track, the lyrically-powerful “Diving Woman.” It was delivered beautifully despite Zauner losing her microphone to a faulty stand. A helpful fan struggled to fix the mic stand, then simply held it to Zauner’s height until the sound technician could reach it to assist.
It’s not a mystery that Zauner has taken the cosmos as inspiration for her music; atmosphere and haze are an important part of the sound, which features twinkling guitar and a melancholic heart. The audience was brought back to earth, however, by funk basslines and synthesized sax, as well as the grounded metaphors in her poetic lyrics; she sings about experiences we can all relate to. “Till Death,” one of the slow songs of the evening, is described as being about “being grateful to have someone in your life to experience all the shit in life with.”
The faux-encore (“instead of… hiding in the pre-amp closet”), included the driving “Everybody Wants to Love You,” a two-minute burst of sound with take-no-shit lyrics, fluid synth, and jammable guitar riffs. The set closed on easily Zauner’s most interesting song, the whirl of auto-tuned vocals and droning synth chords that is “Machinist,” written about “falling in love with a robot,” which is exemplified in its music video.