Japanese Breakfast, with opening acts Mannequin Pussy and The Spirit of the Beehive, played a sold out show at the Holocene on September 25th.
By Haley Grant
The venue’s stage feels like a fish bowl with lights, a fog machine, and a slowly rotating disco ball. First band The Spirit of the Beehive hums 20 minutes of melodies but ends with punk. There are two singers in the band, and one talk-sings the lyrics. The other singer plays bass in the center of the stage. They play through songs without speaking until one singer requests “go drink a beer, make it less awkward for me,” as they tune their guitar.
A band with two singers has variety, one tells you the story and the other croons the high note melody. After a few songs that remind me of Beach House, they launch into a punk number with higher energy.
The next band, Mannequin Pussy, is heavier. The lead singer wears a white shirt and calls out the hecklers. “C’mon, hurry up,” one guy yells out, as the band tunes and sound-checks. It doesn’t go unnoticed. Lead singer says something like you can see yourself out. The guitarist’ strap has american flags on it.
There are issues with the earpiece or the playback. The lead singer says they can’t hear anything, but they tell the audience, “if it sounds good to you, that’s what matters.” The singer has a soft but powerful voice. They sip high notes as effortlessly as they scream out profanities.
Dive into another intense punk song. Quickly now. Lead singer takes off the guitar and hands it to a person in plaid who played in the first band, now there’s five people on stage. In their finale, the singer falls to their knees and sings to the front row attendees, who have dyed hair. The bass guitarist throws the instrument in the air. Are they gunna catch it? They do.
It’s 10:38. From the right of stage the band members of Japanese Breakfast appear. Michelle Zauner is in all white when she picks up an off-white guitar. Spotlights come on in different directions; it’s a hazy room. A guitarist holds the neck of the instrument in one hand, plays a chord on a keyboard with the other. The drummer sings too, and has their own mic. They play “In Heaven.”
Michelle’s smile is celebratory. Later on she tells us how important it is to her to sell out the Holocene as a headliner: “As a Eugene kid, that’s very cool.”
“It’s very exciting to play here, it’s my fucking show.”
It is a special night. Michelle has many friends at the show, including her guitar teacher, who taught her “Carry The Zero,” but according to Michelle: not the cool parts, just the A7 chord. Michelle tells the crowd she spent her bachelorette party in Portland, where she and her crew were kicked out of six bars: the first being Sassy’s across the street.
“Does the disco ball work?” she asks. Soon after, the thing starts slowly turning, which is uneventful at first, until the purple light is cast on it. The band plays their self-proclaimed “school dance jam.” It’s “Boyish,” from their new album “Soft Sounds From Another Planet.” A song, she says, about how much high school sucks.
“Well this feels pretty special,” says Michelle, as blue and purple lights drift across the room.