San Francisco’s Jay Som, Philly’s Japanese Breakfast and Mitski took over the Starline Social Club in Oakland this Friday. Japanese Breakfast is supporting Mitski as the latter tours behind her excellent Puberty 2 album, released on Dead Oceans in June. If you haven’t picked that album up, it’s highly recommended that you do so.
After excellent sets from the openers, Mitski took the stage playing bass alongside her drummer and guitarist. With a subtle intro, Mitski’s vocal dexterity was immediately on display as she nimbly moved through octaves/scales to start. Next came “Townie” from her 2014 album Bury Me At Makeout Creek, followed by “First Love/Late Spring” off the same LP. Her balance between spoken word approach and agile singing hooked the audience early. There were a few missed bass notes before she shared that she was very sick. Some Ox bone soup earlier in the day from Oakland’s Gong Ja House helped, but she still felt rough.
The trio played “I Want You” from 2013’s Retired From Sad, New Career in Business before they dipped into Puberty 2 material with “Thursday Girl”. Mitski let us know, “this next song is a cover. If it’s you’re favorite song in the set, I’ll feel a bit conflicted,” before beginning a surprisingly excellent version of Calvin Harris “How Deep Is Your Love“. Her vocals paired marvelously against the minimal guitar and controller-based beat. They returned to Makeout Creek tracks with “Francis Forever” (which was received well immediately) and “I Don’t Smoke”. Mitski asked who in the crowd was from China, noted she grew up in China and said, “if they bring you a luke water glass of water, it’s a sign of a good Chinese place,” and dropped into “Your Best American Girl“. Makeout Creek songs “I Will and “Drunk Walk Home” closed out the full band set before Mitski continued solo.
Mitski carried the room on the strength of her vocals with Puberty 2 cuts “A Burning Hill” and “I Bet on Losing Dogs” before closing with Makeout Creek’s “Last Words of a Shooting Star”. While she was certainly sick and not at her finest, the lyrical and vocal highlights of Puberty 2 were on display. Shouts out to Jay Som and Japanese Breakfast for rounding out a wonderful night of music from Asian American women.