This past Monday, the tour of San Francisco’s Jay Som, Philadelphia’s Japanese Breakfast and New York’s Mitski brought them to a thundery Portland, ME that was thrilled to have them. The contemporary visual and performance art venue, Space Gallery, was packed with an eclectic and energetic crowd who showered each artist with a loud and gracious welcome. The sound was a medley of indie pop and refined folk complete with absorbing song writing and impressive sound quality.

 

Michelle Zauner, singer/songwriter of Japanese Breakfast, performed favorites from the album, Psychopomp. Having listened to the album essentially on repeat for months leading up to the show, I had no doubt that their set would be spirited and energetic. However, I was still blown away by the performance of Zauner who merrily waltzed into the embrace of the crowd during Breakfast’s last song. I was also surprised by the band’s frugal use of auto tune that left the crowd dancing and craving more the group’s diverse style. Much to my chagrin, I arrived late and was unable to catch all of Japanese Breakfast, leaving me with no choice but to follow their tour to the UK or meet them in Philly as they wrap it up. Alternatively, I could test my patience and catch them later on down the road. Given Zauner’s undeniable talent, a future tour will surely be one not to miss.

 

 

The stoic, sorrowful and sultry quality of Mitski Miyawaki’s voice pairs extremely well with her music that segues naturally from smooth folk to a trademark punk sound. Nowhere was Mitski’s cry more evident than in Townie, my favorite tune off the masterful album Bury Me at Makeout Creek which initially earned her critical acclaim. Succeeding this album and maintaining the theme of hard-hitting and thoughtful lyrics was Puberty 2, which was also represented Monday evening. To my surprise and enjoyment, Mitski covered Calvin Harris & Disciples’ How Deep is Your Love. Before finishing her set, Mitski left the enthralled audience with the cryptic declaration “after this last song let’s all go home and think about tonight.”

 

 

My unfortunate tardiness also meant that I’d failed to witness the performance of Melina Duterte, aka Jay Som, whose recent rise in popularity has taken her from across the country to Maine from San Francisco. Concisely put, Jay Som is quintessential indie pop with songs that sound studio practiced and others that come off candid yet polished. Okay, perhaps that wasn’t very concise . Regardless, I implore all reading to investigate Duterte and her yet emergent career.  Especially Unlimited Touch off the album Turn Into; I can’t get enough of that song.

A+ to the three early-to-mid 20’s artists whose writing and singing, while decidedly introspective and thoughtful, are more than capable of making me both dance and look inward, whether live or studio. Each artist’s work so far is proliferated with deeply personal themes (some subtle and some frank) and I leave it to the reader to interpret each on their own.