We Went There / Photos : Japanese Breakfast at First Avenue is a rush
It’s been a pretty good year for Japanese Breakfast. Led by singer-songwriter and musician, Michelle Zauner, the short list of accomplishments from 2021 to now include being nominated for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album for their most recent release “Jubilee” in the most recent Grammy’s, a triumphantly glorious performance on the Saturday Night Live finale, and a New York Bestselling book “Crying in the H Mart” which is due to become a movie in the next year or two.
Hot on these great accomplishments there was a lot of anticipation for Japanese Breakfast’s stop through Minneapolis at the storied little black box with people in it, First Avenue, on Monday night July 11, 2022. Sponsored by local radio station, The Current, and listed on many publications around the Twin Cities as a must see show, it was easily sold out.
Entering the venue First Avenue was nearly completely packed as the opening act, The Linda Lindas took the stage promptly at 8. A punk rock, riot grrl band from Los Angeles that created a buzz in 2021 with the release of a viral video for their performance of “Racist, Sexist Boy” they commanded the Mainroom stage in a way that many bands twice their age or more never accomplish. Did I mention none of the members of the band are over the age of 17?!? The drummer is 11! As any proper punk band is wont to do…they plowed through their set fast and furious with a few moments of humility that they were playing on such a storied stage, that they were still just kids, oh…and they have merch and would be at the booth after the set to meet their fans (always a great touch for new bands to do). Each member of the band is a vocalist and a musician, and take turns throughout their set taking the lead. This band is such a tight-knit group, and I am stoked to see how far their great start takes them. Hats off to whomever mentored this group early on…they’re awesome and a great addition to this tour.
Shortly after 9 the First Avenue lights dimmed once more and members of Japanese Breakfast took their places on stage. As the first few notes began for “Paprika”, the first track on their latest album, Michelle appeared onstage grabbing her mallet to enthusiastic cheers from the crowd… and the party began. With each hit of the gong I felt my emotions come to surface, and found myself caught between being captivated by the performance a few feet away from me and making sure to capture the performance with my camera. Every time I hear this song, it evokes an emotional response I can’t stop. It really is a rush to be in presence of a talent on the rise, as Michelle and her band are on. I could feel the energy of the crowd as well as other photographers near me that I was not alone in this regard.
Moving into the second song on the new album, “Be Sweet”, Michelle danced lightly around the stage to blue and pink lights…moving from stage left to stage right fully engaged with the crowd. “Be sweet to me, baby I wanna believe in you, I wanna believe in something.” And infectiously upbeat dance tune with somewhat dark lyrics about being open to someone you love and admitting mistakes…and irrational fears of that person leaving you. Continuing the night with a mix of old and new songs, including “Machinist”, that came “out of retirement” about a woman who falls in love with a robot.
It was a triumphant return by Japanese Breakfast to Minneapolis that felt like a jubilee and something special to be a part of.
First Avenue Set List
Savage Good Boy
The Body Is A Blade
Posing In Bondage
Everybody Wants To Love You
Posing For Care
Christopher Goyette is a live music and event photographer in Minneapolis.