Imagine being as charismatic as Michelle Zauner, the brains behind Japanese Breakfast. To command an ACL Fest stage in the sweltering heat so thoroughly that you wouldn’t dream of taking your eyes off the lady in the combat boots thoroughly working the stage? To make it all look so easy when she pulls ribbons of emotion out of her mouth that seem to stretch on in your ears forever, like on “Road Head”? Since her Scoot Inn show earlier this year, the “Soft Sounds From Another Planet” artist’s powers have grown exponentially.
Using her ACL Fest stop as a punctuation mark for two-and-a-half years of touring, Zauner drew all attention without making a fuss about it — a real rock-and-roll lighthouse, a steady guiding light. She warped the oppressive humidity in the air into a narcotic trip on opener “Diving Woman” and turned threatening storm clouds overhead into set dressing for the gauzy sock hop of “Boyish.” It was easy to drift toward Zauner on her signature cover of the Cranberries’ “Dreams,” keening as she did like the best of the banshees of rock.
Japanese Breakfast closed out with “Machinist,” a song “about falling in love with a robot.” Zauner wailed into her microphone at the end, a saxophone-like scream into a digital void. Once you’ve covered woozy dream-pop, a ballad that makes festival bros slow dance and a Dolores O’Riordan tribute, there’s really no reason to not go full cyberpunk before you leave the stage.
Presence, pipes. Breakfast is a full meal.
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