Japanese Breakfast is the brainchild of Philly-based human-tour-de force Michelle Zauner. This year alone she’s released: a successful record, a bestselling nonfiction book, and a video game soundtrack.
I saw them at The Neptune Theatre on Monday night. It was the third night of near sold-out shows.
It was a cool, crisp Seattle night—a night where you needed a rain jacket outside, but regretted bringing it because it’s so hot inside. I took the light rail from my apartment and thought about how great it will be next week when I can get off the train around the corner from The Neptune.
Arriving at the theater felt like coming home. It was my first show back at The Neptune since sometime in 2019 (sorry I DIDN’T MAKE IT IN THE FIRST MONTHS OF 2020!) and it felt nice to be in that big beautiful space again. It was a packed house, but everyone was good about masks and while folks were standing near each other we weren’t shoulder to shoulder like you used to be at shows.
Opening the night was Luna Li who was a perfect complement to Japanese Breakfast with similar dreamy tones. During her set Li talked about how seeing Zauner onstage at a festival in Toronto was awe-inspiring because it was incredible to see someone like herself as the leader of a rock band—they’re both half-Korean.
Japanese Breakfast started with “Paprika,” the bombastic opener to their new record Jubilee. While singing it she was slamming a mallet against a gong every few beats, it was thrilling. Seen here on Jimmy Kimmel
Their set consisted of new and old songs, and they even played the big single off their video game soundtrack Glider. The crowd was enraptured and even after three straight nights, the band was electric. The last time I saw them was also at The Neptune and it seemed like they were on a mission to prove something. Now they exuded a quiet confidence that felt effortless.
One of my favorite parts was that throughout their set Zauner would throw out a little explanatory quip about the next song: “This is a song about Billionares” she said about the track Savage Good Boy.
I had invitations to a half dozen shows in Seattle last weekend and I wanted to be at all of them. But choices had to be made, so I chose the album release shows for Linda From Work at Barboza on Friday and Mt Fog at Lo-Fi on Saturday.
It was interesting to be back in Barboza’s dark basement almost exactly a month since I was there taking photos for Chong The Nomad’s opening weekend show. Considering the new COVID protocols popping up around the city, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I grabbed my vaccination card and wandered through the Hill, picking up a slice of Big Mario’s Pizza on the way.
Overall it felt very much the same as it had at the beginning of the month—folks out looking for a good time. Stereo Sauna and Peyote Ugly opened for Linda From Work, and Barboza’s crowd was sweaty by the time the headliners came onstage to play through their new record. A baby mosh pit even formed.
While Capitol Hill sometimes feels like a living, breathing entity, East Lake on a Saturday night feels still and calm, except for the interstate’s roar. All the people I saw on my way to Lo-Fi ended up at the venue, and they seemed genuinely excited.
The show paired Mt Fog’s electro-influenced music with otherworldly lighting by projection wizard Blazinspace; the mix made for an altogether surreal performance. People bobbed their heads to the subtle vibes of Mt Fog and their openers Beatrix Sky and Night Hikes, clearly enraptured.
“We’re sitting in the garden area of Oxbow Park in Georgetown, there are giant sunflowers behind them. The sun is setting after a good photoshoot with this ridiculously fun band. It’s summer still and even though the sun is going down it’s still warm. We had decided on Georgetown specifically for the colossal cowboy boots and hat that loom in the background. The glam-cowboy look is part of their aesthetic. Both times I’ve met Jena she’s been wearing bright colors and a cowboy hat.
Below is a conversation with the four members of Sundae Crush, Jena, Izaac, Dan, and Emily. Jeffrey might be asking the questions, but it’s a conversation amongst themselves at least as much as it is with me.
How did you meet?
We wanted to join each other’s bands.
Emily: We all wanted to join each other’s bands. That’s actually the truth.
Izaac: I’ve been in Sundae since two Septembers ago. I was doing solo music at the time. I did sound for And Me Party and ran into some people and then did sound at one Sundae Crush’s shows. I saw them and was like ‘what the fuck, this is the best Seattle band!’ and then they needed a bass player like a month after that and then I joined. I had wanted to play bass and be in that kind of band for a bit.
Dan: I saw them when I moved here like two years ago and joined the band like a year ago. I saw them at a house show and I was just blown away. I was like, ‘this is so good.’ So I dragged a bunch of my friends to numerous shows and was like ‘you gotta check out this band,’ and yeah, they needed a drummer
Izaac: Was that the Kame House?
Dan: I saw y’all a few times. I saw the Kame House, the roller rink, and I saw Brunch Box.
Emily: My friend Tiffany told me y’all need a guitarist. So I put my hat in the ring. I’m just so proud to be here.
Jena: I saw Emily play, I guess before I met her.
Emily: Oh at the Country Music Showcase at the Royal Room. So you knew I was a functional guitarist.
Jena: Yes! I was like ‘she’s really good!’
How did you decide on the name Sundae Crush?
Jena: It was some time in Texas. It started as a solo project. Before this band, I had a band called Layer Cake. So I sort of went with the same food theme.
How long has the band been in its current iteration?
Jena: It’s been about a year.
Emily: Yeah, we joined after Summer Jam.
Jena: Yeah! July 23rd, I remember it was the day I emailed.
Emily: You emailed saying you wanted me to be in the band during the ten-minute drive from your place and mine. My roommate was like ‘how’d it go?’ and I was like ‘pretty well…wait, I got the gig!’
Izaac: it was funny, Dan and Emily were like the last two people on the last day of tryouts.
Jena: We also decided to dress intimidating that day. I don’t know why.
Izaac: we wanted to look extra professional.
Dan: Oh yeah! I showed up and they were in full stage gear.
Emily: Jena was wearing the Patsy Cline dress.
Jena: That’s probably why I wore it—I got it that day.
Izaac: That’s right, they came in and we had picked some backups and thought ‘we’ll play it by ear, we’ll keep an open mind’, but after they left we were like ‘okay we found our band.’
What’s your method for songwriting, where do these songs come from?
Jena: It’s kind of all over the place, sometimes it starts with me, other times it’s like a jam and we’re like ‘that sounds great, let’s keep doin’ it.’
We had a Sailor Moon screen project, where we did the whole soundtrack for Sailor Moon: R, and that was like sixty minutes of music.
Izaac: We cover two or three things from the movie, included a few of ours, and the rest was all original.
Jena: Yeah some of that was formed into songs, and others are in the backlog and I still really wanna make a song out of them.
Emily: Which songs on the record are from that?
Jena: Don’t Give Up.
Emily: oh really?!
Izaac: Well it was originally ‘don’t give up so soon, Sailor Moon’ so we just cut off the sailor moon part so it’s just ‘don’t give up so soon.’ I wanted to keep the Sailor Moon part.
How was the new record? What was recording that like?
Jena: we had a really good experience recording in Anacortes at The Unknown Studio. Nick was just incredible to work with.
Izaac: It’s the same place Angel Olsen just recorded.
Jena: I guess Antonioni recorded right after us.
Izaac: It was cool, we stayed overnight. We had to do, like, four or five sessions. It worked out really well, Nick is just amazing. It’s an old repurposed church.
What’s your favorite Seattle band?
Jena: The Black Tones
Izaac: I’m really into the Black Ends EP. Guyaba’s great! Bad Optics is a cool band. Shimmertraps are also a really cool band.
Dan: I really dig Beverly Crusher. Also, Calm Down Party, who we just played with, was really cool
Emily: Oh, Beverly Crusher is so good! I like Paris Alexa. Oh yeah, and Deep Sea Diver!
What’s your favorite Seattle Venue?
Emily: I just love Connor Byrne. Just the most wonderful people.
Izaac: Where’d we play the Sailor Moon show?
Jena: Northwest Film Forum. That was a really fun show. For me, the roller rink was the best.
Izaac: I liked when we played at Barboza. Got some good greenroom times in there.
Emily: only once did we feel in danger for our lives. So Barboza is the underground and Neumos is right on top of it. Does anyone remember who was performing above us?
Izaac: It was Brock Hampton. Brock Hampton was playing a show above us and the entire ceiling was moving up and down. It looked like it was breathing. There was a bag on the floor and you could see it moving from the wind.
Emily: Yeah the air was pushing through and we had to open the doors. The other artist we were playing with was like ‘this seems genuinely unsafe’
Dan: Someone from the venue came in and was like ‘yeah, that happens all the time, it’s designed like that’
Izaac: as the night went on they kept coming back and look at it. They’d go and get another person and ask ‘is that normal?’ We tried to sneak our way to see Brock Hampton at one point but they were like ‘Sorry, you can stand in the stairwell, but you can’t come in’
When do you all have new music coming out?
“Armageddon of Love, the second EP by Seattle duo Aline & Wes, is equal parts massive rock anthem and vulnerable ballad. They’re playing to their strengths here, weaving their blues-rock roots into an incredible mixture of old and new. One of the highlights on this album is when Aline & Wes play off each other. Heard most clearly on tracks like “What You Think You Need,” both voices get equal lead time, while also showing their ability to support the other. Both are incredible songwriters and singers on their own, but together they are creating something beautiful and distinct.
The first track we fell in love with was the epic “Whoa,” which follows “What You Think You Need.” “Whoa” roars into your aural cavity with a hypnotic guitar riff and then keeps on coming with those soaring vocals. This song would work just as well blasting from your car while you’re driving off into the sunset as it would booming from a wall of speakers at a stadium. This song sounds so cool, and will make you feel invincible every time you hear them howl “whhhhoooaaa.”
Armageddon of Love is a damn fine EP from some of the best songwriters in Seattle. On it their able to deftly shift from enormous rock anthems to some of the most vulnerable songs you’ll hear this year. This five-song EP clocks in at just under 20 minutes, and will leave you wanting more.”
“Over the years, I think most people have thought, ‘well I could write a book,’ and given it the old community college try. Sometimes that effort turns into something fruitful and they become authors, and maybe even sell books. Sometimes people give up writing because it’s too hard, or they don’t have enough time. Oftentimes, that is a shame, because you should have the ability to learn to form thoughts into sentences. Not only because writing is a beautiful art form, but also because it can be very a very transformative process. No matter what your reason for writing, there are many pitfalls and problems with getting into the rhythm of being an author. As people who are both writers and editors ourselves, we thought it would be nice to give some advice on things to remember when you’re just starting out as an author.
Being Human—Syfy’s remake of the British Being Human—ended last night. It was a show about a Vampire, a Werewolf—well, two werewolves, really—and a ghost. Over the years we saw these characters go from mental adolescents, to adults, with a genuine understanding of not only their own limitations, but also the consequences of having some extraordinary gifts.
The finale was a touching reminder that this show, at its core, truly is just about being a human being. Their problems were more extreme than most of us will ever experience, but it was about the hardships; the things that make us happy; the ups and the downs. The finale gave each of the characters a well tied off, loose end free, ending. It helps that they knew this was coming, but overall I think it was a very nice farewell to four characters that we had grown to love. In an age where there are an increasingly high number of “wtf” endings to our favorite tv shows, it is nice to see one get it right. Over all this show was something special, and I am sad to see it go. Was it brilliant? No, but what it was was heartfelt all the way to the very end.