On October 31st, the Jubilee era came to its vibrant and energetic conclusion. The show took place at The Fillmore in Philadelphia, the city that birthed Japanese Breakfast. This was my third time seeing Japanese Breakfast on the Jubilee tour, which spanned from June 6th, 2021 to last weekend. Every single time I have been nothing less than blown away by these hometown heroes. This particular show, however, was possibly the most impeccably conducted tour conclusion that I have ever been lucky enough to bear witness to.
Minus the painfully unfunny comedy set performed by Sarah Sherman, colloquially known as Sarah Squirm, which I think a majority of the audience would have preferred to have never seen. This substanceless set only really consisted of Sherman repeatedly making grunting noises for an uncomfortably long time, and disses at Philly sports. Not a great move in a room full of Philadelphians. Genuinely, this was one of those moments where I wished a comical amount of tomatoes would have been thrown on stage.
The only appropriate way to describe a Japanese Breakfast show is as a massive celebration, thrumming with a whimsy and joy that is nothing short of a festivalian atmosphere. I have watched non-fans fall in love with indie rock’s sweetheart Michelle Zauner in real time. Their eyes, glued to her as she gracefully dances across stage; a persimmon-shaped mallet in her hand. Then, mere moments later, she proceeds to rip into the most enchantingly raw guitar duet with her husband and bandmate of Japanese Breakfast, Peter Bradley.
This was one of many Halloween shows that swept the country this year. Artists like julie played here in Raleigh on Oct. 30th and The Dare took his freakquencies party to Los Angeles on Oct. 27th in collaboration with Playboy. However, if you had told me that my experience would be watching Zauner parade on-stage dressed as Saruman, playing an entire set in a long white beard with the rest of the band matching in Lord of the Rings costumes, I probably would have hit you with the thousand meter stare. It certainly wasn’t an expected costume choice, but I will say it only succeeded in making the show that much more enjoyable, especially since I was in attendance as Jonathan Davis with Fred Durst by my side. I am simply a sucker for the bit.
During this show, the development of Japanese Breakfast as a band was explored as the set list ebbed and flowed through between album eras, and even gave the audience a taste of the future of the band with an unreleased song, informally dubbed “Orlando” as of now. Prior to this song, Zauner announced that she and Bradley would be moving to South Korea in the forthcoming months in order to work on both a new Japanese Breakfast album, and her second novel; a follow-up to her bestselling memoir Crying in H-Mart. This will be the band’s fourth studio album since their 2016 debut. Zauner described it as an album that would be representative of water, of the flow of life from the slow violence of grief shown in Soft Sounds from Another Planet to the ripening of a tangy and sweet youth, illustrated through the triumphant nature of the Jubilee era.
The balance that was struck between deep cuts from Psychopomp, and more well known tracks off Soft Sounds from Another Planet and Jubilee, created a feeling of swelling and withdrawing like the tides of waves; building and building until the final crash against the beacon of shore with Zauner’s raucous and indulgent guitar solo in “Diving Woman.” Despite this, the deepest dive of the set was something that I could never have imagined witnessing.
In a moment that I can only describe as the biggest day for annoying Philadelphian emo scene supporters in recent history, Zauner brought Kevin O’Halloran, original guitarist of Little Big League on-stage for a performance of “Lindsey”. As both a Little Big League and Japanese Breakfast fan, this was a moment that nearly shattered my world. When those first notes of that captivating guitar riff rang through the air, it felt like hearing the song for the first time again; like I had just taken a breath of crisp autumn air in this packed room.
While the ending of the Jubilee era may feel like a bittersweet moment for the average indie rock enjoyer, Japanese Breakfast made sure to close it out with a massive bang. A lingering sadness hangs with me now that an era that has been with me for a large majority of my college experience has finally concluded, but I truthfully could not have asked for it to end any other way than this. Japanese Breakfast has become an absolute monster of force in the indie scene in the past few years, and I am beyond excited to watch them further blossom as a band.