BandsInTown has been pushing their new premium service in front of my eyeballs heavily the past few weeks and after last night’s performances by Japanese Breakfast and CHAI I only wish they had been doing it sooner (I missed Arlo Parks, ARG!!!).
Japanese Breakfast performed as a four piece but is centered around the singular driving force of Michelle Zauner. Jbrekkie as the fans call her has a new album coming out but the group only performed one song from it in their streamed performance from Brooklyn venue Pioneer Works, Be Sweet. Michelle was dressed in an over sized Yellow Suit that fans have dubbed the Be Sweet outfit. One of the few true positives of watching a streamed concert over an in person show is engaging with other fans in the live chat. In this case, several people commented how Michelle’s outfit was similar to David Byrne’s in the classic Talking Heads live show Stop Making Sense.
The show kicked off with the immediately immersive Diving Woman, centered around a mesmerizing bass riff that seems to wrap the entire song in a warm hug. They ran through fan favorites Heft and Ballad O but didn’t ignore more well known songs like Road Head and Boyish. The band, and Michelle especially, seemed to genuinely be enjoying themselves, I can only imagine what it’s been like to not be able to perform for so long for musicians.
The second act of the night performed at Noon their time from Japan. CHAI is a Japanese four piece who’s debut full length will release on Sub Pop in the Spring of 2021.
CHAI is more than just a band. They are what I believe most successful musicians of the 21st century will be, artists. Yes, they write and perform music but they probably spend an equal amount of time designing the visual elements to go along with each song and this was on full display during their Bandsintown Plus performance.
They kicked off their performance which appeared to be a live broadcast from inside a small 150 square foot room with their latest single ACTION. If three of the songs on their new record are half as good as ACTION they are going to be huge by this time next year. ACTION was performed as a choreographed dance and vocal routine over backing instrumentals. Other songs were performed as a full band with each of the members playing an instrument or even performed as two DJs syncing samples and beats in real time. Overhead cameras and some edited clips of them creating and decorating the performance space helped create some tricky video editing that allowed the band to run through several costume changes in the less than one hour performance.
It was clear to everyone watching that CHAI are something special and we all caught what was, hopefully, a small show for them considering where they could potential go once their album is released..
After each performance Bandsintown Plus had their host, who’s name I’m drawing a blank on, interview the artists. This added element, especially the fact that he was asking questions directly from the live chat, was an unexpected bonus I didn’t know I wanted until I watched it.
What was really great about this experience was getting to interact with other fans while not talking over the performance. What was really missing was the band feeding off the live energy of an audience, the merch booth, the faint smell of weed and my car getting a ticket for where I parked. Well, I guess virtual shows aren’t all bad, right?
Bottom Line: BandsintownPlus offered the best of virtual concert experience I’ve had in the past year. I’m excited to check out the line up of groups I already love like Haim and discover new ones from the comfort of my own home while charging with fans and not talking over the performance. Sign up!
Setlists for the performances can be found here.