Lead singer and driving force of The Japanese House, Amber Bain, was greeted by chants of her name when she and the rest of the band walked onstage at The Fillmore’s Monday night show. In a simple pink T-shirt and ripped jeans, Bain’s laid-back energy exuded the very nonchalant essence of her stage presence.
Starting off with “Face Like Thunder,” the band never missed a beat. The song pushed and pulled at the audience, with the choruses and verses trading in speed and atmospheric sound. As an artist signed to Dirty Hit, the same record label hosting The 1975, this band knew the importance of starting off with a bang.
For some, this concert probably felt familiar — maybe a little too familiar.
In May, The Japanese House toured through August Hall in San Francisco after initially releasing Good at Falling. Since the band has only dropped one new song since then, much of the setlist remained unchanged. Considering the spring show sold out, this second tour may have been a saving grace for anyone who timed out on buying tickets the first time around. For second-time listeners, however, it was hard to find anything new brought to the table.
But regardless, who could really get tired of Bain? As “Cool Blue” and “We Talk all the Time” made waves with the audience, Bain took a pause to say that this show was the biggest the band had played in San Francisco thus far.
Switching it up, the band performed a cover of “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac in a more monotone style. The Japanese House has a short history of covering songs by the ‘70s icons, particularly their recording of “Landslide” for a Spotify Session in 2017. The cover was a bit dreary, done in the classic sad girl style of the band, but it proved a flawless transition into “Everybody Hates Me.”
Bain’s organic vocals shined through on “Lilo.” Allowing herself to play with the range of notes and provide a different listening experience than the recorded track, this creative experimentation was subtle and successful for the British vocalist.
For “Saw You in a Dream,” Bain said she “had an order” for the crowd. Leading a stripped-down chorus to start off the song, the vocalist conducted the audience members to sing through the poetic lyrics all on their own. The song was kept low in energy until the latter half when the drums entered the sound more intensely, and the band took charge in fully projecting.
For “Worms,” Bain turned the mic to the crowd, having her fans finish the lyrics, as she sipped on the drink previously sitting at her feet. It’s an enigma how Bain is consistently this cool, but her laid-back and emotionally telling lyrics speak for themselves.
The penultimate song of the night was one the band members said they’d never really played before. While the members said they had performed countless acoustic versions, “Something Has to Change” is still rather fresh to the repertoire. “Bear with us,” Bain said, as she prepared for the stirring performance. And even though it was a first-time for both band and audience, the moment came and went without a flaw.
The band ended the night with one of its more obscure selections: “Clean,” from the 2015 EP of the same name. Leading Bain through a whirlwind of emotions right onstage, she daringly let her guitar fall straight to the ground with a powerful thud. After such a powerful scene, Bain waved goodbye before exiting the stage, taking her undeniable badassery right with her.