It took a while for the world to notice, but Michelle Zauner's work as Japanese Breakfast has picked up a lot of steam since her latest, Psychopomp, was released last summer, making the Philadelphia quartet the perfect choice for a three-night stand at the Silver Dollar.
Zauner's dense compositions translated well to the stage, though a wonky monitor hampered her soaring vocals. Nevertheless, "In Heaven" and "Everybody Wants to Love You" were early highlights, as were some mid-tempo numbers from the band's forthcoming new album. Already finished, Zauner announced it would be out in the summer.
Though she's a fine guitar player, she really came alive when she was able to ditch the instrument and embrace her inner-front-woman, stalking the stage and the crowd with a studied confidence. But it was her between song banter where her real personality showed through. She praised Toronto (regaling the crowd with the band's earlier game, "Fuck-Marry-Kill," she announced she'd marry the city) and the local neighbourhood for its mix of Szechuan restaurants and vintage video game stores.
The band's main set ended with the terrific "Machinist," a song "about being in love with a robot." She and two of her three bandmates returned for an impromptu encore featuring a skyscraping rendition of the Cranberries "Dreams."
A heady mix of charisma, reliability and fun, Japanese Breakfast are bound for bigger things. Catch them while you can.