Japanese Breakfast Takes Iowa City Out of This World
by Jane Rice
Illustration by Genevieve Cleverley
Japanese Breakfast performed a sold out show at the Mill Wednesday night, September 19. Clumped together in the crowded bar, the crowd nodded their heads and danced, letting the wailing guitar sweep them away. Others stared in silence, awestruck by lead singer Michelle Zauner’s haunting vocals.
Canadian band Ought kicked off the night with post-punk tunes influenced by the “revolutionary spirit of radicalism and adventure.” Their music was spunky and spirited, with punchy guitar riffs and exuberant drum beats. However, their stage presence lacked in charisma, and failed to enthrall the audience the way Japanese Breakfast accomplished. Still, their lively and adventurous performance was an energizing way to begin the show.
The audience erupted in cheers as Japanese Breakfast took the stage. Silence quickly fell over the crowd as the first note rang out, they were instantly bewitched by Zauner’s powerfully high voice. She looked effortlessly cool, shimmering like a disco ball in a glittery sheer top and sparkly shorts, paired with patent leather boots. In her popular song “Road Head”, Japanese Breakfast’s energy was contagious as she danced onstage, the crowd dancing with her. In her song “Till Death”, her melancholic and chilling vocals reached out and grabbed the audience by the heart. Near the end of her set, Japanese Breakfast performed a stunning cover of The Cranberry’s “Dreams”, her voice matching the unique soprano of lead singer Dolores O’Riordan.
Influenced by indie-pop and European shoegaze, Zauner’s solo project is known for her atmospheric and otherworldly sound. After releasing her sophomore album Soft Sounds from Another Planet last year, Japanese Breakfast has grown in popularity. Her lyrics take on a number of subjects, including grief from the death of her mother, queer love, and of course, outer space. Between sets, Michelle was funny and relatable, pitching a reality show that takes place on Mars and joking about Super Mario Brothers. At the end of the concert, the performance was met with a standing ovation and a chorus of cheers. The band walked off stage, only to return a minute later to perform two more songs for an encore. The crowd walked out still buzzing with excitement, intoxicated by Japanese Breakfast’s performance.