Japanese Breakfast Graduates to the Mainroom

Japanese Breakfast First Avenue Performance Minneapolis, MN
Photo by Sara Fish

So I know it sounds like a lot, but I really cannot recommend a better way to close out your weekend than a Sunday evening concert. Sure, it’ll leave you in a STATE on Monday, but the satisfaction that comes with milking everything you can out of the weekend is simply euphoric.

That being said, yesterday I found myself back in line at First Avenue for the second week in a row, this time to attend Japanese Breakfast’s long-awaited, inaugural Mainroom performance.

And, as far as performances go, this one was 100% worth the groggy Monday morning after.

Luna Li First Avenue Performance Minneapolis, MN
Photo by Sara Fish

I rolled up to the venue and made my way through the shockingly quick entry process (seriously, what doesn’t First Avenue do well?) just in time to take a spot on the second-floor balcony and enjoy the last half of the opener, Luna Li’s, set.

Luna Li garnered mass appeal by sharing soft, jammy multi-instrumental loops on social media during the pandy, but the insane combination of alternative island pop sounds and airy vocals this group is pumping out will surely outlast a fleeting moment of internet fame.

Getting to hear the band stroll through some of my favorite songs from their jams EP that came out earlier this year (check it out if you haven’t yet!) was simply fantastic, and you could tell how excited everyone in attendance was to catch their set as well because the room was nearly at capacity by the end of their performance.

This is very obviously just the beginning for Luna Li, and I look forward to watching them continue to rise through the ranks. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to catch their own headlining show in the Mainroom in a few years. 

Japanese Breakfast First Avenue Performance Minneapolis, MN
Photo by Sara Fish

For years, Japanese Breakfast has toured Minneapolis under the lights at the 7th Street Entry, and, as this was my first time seeing them, I’m literally wondering how they fit all of that insanity into the Entry?

Not only does the band play a multitude of instruments, but accounting for the sheer amount of energy and stage presence that these folks bring, their days at the smaller venue are more than likely over. 

I mean, I am absolutely sure I have never been more pleased than the moment I spotted a gong at center stage. Like… incredible? 

Japanese Breakfast First Avenue Performance Minneapolis, MN
Photo by Sara Fish

The audience was completely enraptured as the band took to the stage, and the anticipation in the room was palpable. On stage and in the audience, the entire place was on fire.

Jubilee is certainly an apt title for the new record. 

Japanese Breakfast First Avenue Performance Minneapolis, MN
Photo by Sara Fish

Each time frontwoman, Michelle Zauner, smacked the aforementioned gong, the room’s energy grew larger and larger like a living thing. 

They played new hits like “Be Sweet” and “Savage Good Boy,” and older favorites like “Boyish.” Each time filling the room with chaotically beautiful, multi-layered symphonic sounds that don’t sound the same as they do in recordings. Reckoning these new sounds with the familiar piercing vocals and lyrical storytelling resulted in a completely new experience of songs I have loved for years. 

There was a first-ever live performance of a new song, “Glider,” a track from a new original video game soundtrack, a project composed by Zauner over the last few years. The game, Sable, is set for release this Thursday, and I’m no gamer, but if this is what the soundtrack is like, I’ll probably be checking that out. Very ethereal, fantasy world vibes. 

This intimate first live performance, coupled with a booming, crowd-led rendition of “Happy Birthday” to one of their A/V designers, incited such a lovely feeling of community that has been desperately missed over the course of the pandemic.

Japanese Breakfast First Avenue Performance Minneapolis, MN
Photo by Sara Fish

And, if the gong’s not enough for you, how about some tasty sax solos? Throughout the show, there were some incredible saxophone moments but none compare to the end of the night. 

After a booming rendition of “Everybody Wants to Love You”, each member exited, then slowly rejoined the stage, one at a time for a rousing two-song encore.

When asked about the encore performance, an audience member threw out words like “slapped” and “shredding” and, truthfully, I couldn’t agree more. 

I am very much looking forward to what’s next from Japanese Breakfast, and, if their track record is any indication, we won’t be waiting long.

Written by Molly Greene


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