The last time Michelle Zauner was in Madison, she had just finished up with an interview and photo shoot which would eventually turn into the cover story of our Fall 2017 issue. A year later — almost to the exact day — Zauner, performing as Japanese Breakfast, had a stomach full of Korean food as she put on yet another dazzling show.
The Majestic Theatre was filled to capacity for Zauner’s return to Madison. She’s become something like an indie-rock mainstay. Of course the term indie-rock is a broad term, and it is by no means the best way to define her music (though still not perfect, dream-pop, shoegaze and lo-fi are probably all better descriptors), but Zauner’s projects as Japanese Breakfast still seem to be fundamentally guitar-driven, which I guess qualifies it as indie-rock. Nonetheless, her fanbase is growing, and her music is relentlessly exciting. So when, late into the show, Zauner said, “We got the Sold-Out-Fuck-Yeah Award,” it came as no surprise.
Adorned with pink eye shadow, Zauner floated across the matching pink-lit stage with grace and assertiveness; she knows she belongs on stage in front of her adoring fans. Not only does it appear that performing brings her joy of her own, but Zauner knows how to tap into the crowd’s fervor. This combination brings a sense of infectious, candid joy to the stage that spreads throughout the crowd.
On this particular night, Zauner seemed to really be in her element. “I’m having the best day ever. Madison has been very good to me,” Zauner said. “Madison will forever be remembered as the place I made my very first yelp review.” Earlier that day, after a serious craving for authentic Korean food hit her, she did some brief research into where to find the real deal. She stumbled upon Five Star Korean BBQ, which, upon finishing her meal, prompted her to write the following:
“I was nervous about some of the reviews but was thrilled to find they’re totally baseless. I’m from out of town and was happy to find an awesome, authentic Korean restaurant. We had the duk gook and the jam ppong and both were fantastic. Just as good as dishes I’ve had in Seoul. Haven’t had stocks this flavorful from a restaurant in a long time! We had excellent service. Local Korean restaurants with Korean owners shouldn’t suffer due to perhaps some miscommunication with patrons or old white people not knowing what Korean food is supposed taste like. Highly recommend this spot.”
Throughout her energized set, Zauner played crowd favorites “Machinist,” “Jane Cum” and “Everybody Wants to Love You” while throwing in some deeper cuts from her past albums Psychopomp and Soft Sounds from Another Planet to please her most ravenous fans. As one of those ravenous fans, I was especially thrilled to hear “Boyish” during her set.
Overall, there really are never any complaints when it comes to a Japanese Breakfast show. This specific night was no exception. I like to think that Zauner’s meal at Five Star set the tone for her visit, which in turn set the tone for the show, which went on to make my night one of pure joy. Thank you Ms. Zauner and thank you Five Star Korean BBQ.