Mitski, Japanese Breakfast, and Jay Som brought their tour through Los Angeles last night (7/7), as they weighed in at the sold-out Echoplex.
First up was Jay Som. While singer/songwriter Melina Duterte had been transitioning to a full band setup, but she was in solo mode last night. She has a great voice, and the sparse set-up gives her catchy indie-pop an intimacy that works with the songs, but I couldn't help but wish for the full band to give the set a little more juice. Still, the strong songs come across, and the place was already crowded and receptive for her set.
Japanese Breakfast followed with a very quick and energetic set. Michelle Zauner is a great frontwoman, bringing a ton of energy to the proceedings and able to switch between different deliveries with ease. She went from some pretty impressive screams to a peppy yell (on the standout "Everybody Wants to Love You"), from her usual powerful indie-rock delivery to a strange spoken-word/autotune hybrid on the curveball of a closing song. She's got "it," whatever that is, and the crowd was way into the band's set. It helps that the bassist is really great, navigating the band's interesting mix of indie rock, shoegaze, and even some dance-pop with a deftness that you need when you're as all over the place stylistically as this set was. I would've loved to hear a couple more songs, but it was a fun set and a perfect palate-cleanser for Mitski's brand of dark, hushed indie rock.
The crowd was packed in and rapt for the Mitski, who's been riding high behind her great new album Puberty 2. I was struck immediately by the fact that her voice is even more impressive live than on record, and she wields it skillfully. She has such range and control of that instrument, and from that comes the ability to control the crowd. She played a set that was, interestingly, very heavy on songs from her breakout 2014 album Bury Me at Makeout Creek, though still hitting five songs from Puberty 2. While I was surprised by the setlist, I wasn't disappointed, as the set reminded me how strong those earlier songs are, and how well they play in a live setting. "Townie," "I Will," "First Love/Late Spring" and "Francis Forever" were all extremely powerful, the band's experience playing them coming across vividly.
She hit the first Puberty 2 track four songs in, playing a chillingly good version of "Thursday Girl," before launching into her only cover of the night, a powerfully realized version of the Calvin Harris/Disciples hit "How Deep is Your Love." I was consistently impressed by the ability of Mitski and co. to create a mood, one of intimacy and a kind of shared melancholy, often building songs from the barest bones of a bassline, or a drumbeat, into something grand and powerful. She has the kind of voice that makes the sparseness work, and makes the big moments all the more affecting for it. She introduced "I Will" by saying that she wrote the song wishing that someone would say all these things to her, and that (calculated, but powerful) admission got a few hushed gasps out of the crowd. These are sad songs that bring up specific, extremely relatable feelings, that express their worldview with a combination of vivid honesty and impressionistic metaphor, and that combination conjured something powerful in the crowd last night. She closed with a couple of completely solo versions of the closing tracks of her last two albums, first the Puberty 2 beauty "A Burning Hill," and then the death-obssessed "Last Words of a Shooting Star." By the end of the latter it seemed like most in the crowd were left moved and a little shaken. What a unique performer.
Mitski, Japanese Breakfast, and Jay Som, who played Bowery Ballroom earlier on the tour, continue their trek together throughout the month. They'll be in NYC for a sold out Brooklyn show at Music Hall of Williamsburg on July 27. Definitely get there if you can, and check out some instagrams from the LA show below.
Mitski / Japanese Breakfast / Jay Som -- 2016 Tour Dates
7/8 – Oakland, CA @ Starline Social Club
7/9 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
7/11 – Portland, OR @ Analog Theater
7/12 – Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
7/13 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
7/15 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
7/16 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
7/19 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry
7/20 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
7/22 – Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
7/23 – Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz
7/24 – Burlington, VT @ Monkey House
7/25 – Portland, ME @ SPACE Gallery
7/26 – Providence, RI @ AS220
7/27 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg