Japanese Breakfast | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Japanese Breakfast blanketed Johnny Brenda’s in confetti, covered Carly Rae Jepsen (and more) for NYE
Fishtown venue Johnny Brenda’s has a long-running track-record as best place for the music scene to ring in the new year, and that continued last night as Japanese Breakfast wrapped up a sold-out three-night run of hometown shows with a set that was pure magic.
There was a playful celestial ambience care of cardboard stars and foam planets hung from the ceiling, put together by local artist Jarmel Reitz (who production designed the band’s “Boyish” video). There were festive, wrapping paper-coated monitors and tinsel-wrapped mic stands, and a massive confetti shower at the stroke of midnight. There was the awesome DJ set from Mannequin Pussy’s Marisa Dabice, who set the mood with Northern Soul jams early in the evening and rocked the house with Robyn and Icona Pop after the gig.
There was the tremendous tightness and energy of any JBrekkie performance — opening with the explosive pulsar “Diving Woman,” grooving to the loopy “Road Head,” screaming and shredding on “Jane Cum,” swaying to the breathless rocker “Rugged Country,” crying to the cathartic “Till Death,” leaping to the ebullient pop of “Everybody Wants to Love You” — but amplified a dozen times over due to the vibe of the night.
And there were the covers, a staple of any NYE gig at Johnny Brenda’s. To welcome 2019 in a big way, practically everybody involved in the show — openers Gabby’s World (who played a delightful set in their own right), saxophone player Carolyn Haynes of Cult Objects (who also performed the outro solo on “Machinist”), and various friends and family — crammed the stage for an exhilarating rendition of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Run Away With Me,” which you can watch below.
Earlier in the night, Gabrielle Smith of Gabby’s World joined the band for a version of Tears For Fears’ “Head Over Heels,” while guitarist Kevin O’Halloran (who played with Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner and Deven Craige in the punk four-piece Little Big League) came out for an awesome take on Nada Surf’s “Popular.”
Japanese Breakfast has a short breather before playing some U.S. dates this winter, followed by a stint on Belle & Sebastian’s Boaty Weekender cruise in August; check their full tour schedule here, and check out a full photo gallery of scenes from the night below.