Japanese Breakfast - Brooklyn Steel - 1.17.19
Japanese Breakfast with Palehound and Hand Habits
Brooklyn, NY - 1.17.19
Words by Morgan Sheridan
Photos by Jess Williams
Allow me start this review by saying that it’s been three months since I last stepped foot in a concert venue. For those who don’t know me personally, that’s extremely out of the ordinary for me. Three months has been the longest that I’ve ever been away from music, but when I caught wind that Japanese Breakfast was coming Brooklyn Steel in January, I knew I had to be there. I had the pleasure of breaking my music hiatus and returning to Brooklyn Steel last night to see Japanese Breakfast play her first of two back to back sold out out shows. I showed up at the venue just before the first snowfall of 2019 began and escaped into the warm concert hall just in time for the first opening act to begin.
Meg Duffy, known professionally as Hand Habits and a close friend of Japanese Breakfast, kicked off the night. A solo performance led to an intimate and mesmerizing 30 minute set of Duffy and her guitar serenading the crowd. Hailing from upstate New York, Duffy shared memories of her life in the Empire State before migrating to the West Coast. She told the crowd stories of when she was younger and her brother and her would pile on as much clothing as possible and run at each other like sumo wrestlers. The crowd had a kick out of that one! Duffy’s voice was so quiet yet beautiful. There was a seldom a nervous shake in her voice throughout the entire performance and the level of “chill” that the venue collectively reached was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. After a several song setlist, Hand Habits’ time had come to a conclusion and she faded into the darkness of stage right.
Palehound graced the stage next, expressing to the crowd that the performance they were about to put on, was a milestone moment for them. Lead vocalist, Ellen Kempner, stated “Hi, we’re Palehound and this is the largest show we’ve ever played!” The crowd erupted into a loud ruckus of hooting and clapping before the band played their first song “If You Met Her.” With colorful lights and a vibrant performance, Palehound commanded the attention of the crowd for their roughly 45 minute set before it came to a close.
At a quarter till 10pm the lights in Brooklyn Steel dimmed and a large projection lit up a white mosaic-esque screen at the back of the stage. Japanese Breakfast logos began popping up across the screen while the large band graced the stage. This wasn’t an ordinary guitar, bass and drums lineup. No — we had the pleasure of experiencing a full string section as well as brass section. Fans in the front row began jumping up and down, banging on the barricade out of excitement because they knew that this was going to be a great performance.
Japanese Breakfast, also known as Michelle Zauner, pranced onto the stage wearing one of the most unique and beautiful dresses I’ve ever seen — crowd members agreed, shouting compliments on the dress to Zauner. She opened her set with the slow “Jimmy Fallon Big!” before doing a complete 180 and spiraling into the bop, “Machinist”, that definitely got the crowd dancing!
In all honesty, I have never seen Japanese Breakfast live before so going into this show, I had no idea what to expect. However, let me tell you, there is genuinely no place else that I would rather been for my first show of 2019 than inside a sold out Brooklyn Steel with Japanese Breakfast. Looking back, I probably couldn’t name my first show of the last two, three years. But I know, for sure, that when I ring in the new year next year or the year after, I will remember that Japanese Breakfast show. Her powerful and soothing voice, talented guitar skills and beautiful visuals that projected on the screen behind her all came together to create a beautiful and memorable performance.
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