This past Monday night, my week started off on a high note with a sold out show from The Japanese House and Art School Girlfriend. The moniker for English musician and songwriter Amber Bain, The Japanese House is no stranger to Chicago, having played sold out shows at Lincoln Hall and Bottom Lounge in the past, and performing at Lollapalooza. This show marked Bain’s return to the Bottom Lounge and her first performance in Chicago since releasing her debut full length album Good At Falling on March 1st.
While I was able to catch The Japanese House’s set at Lollapalooza in 2017, this show was my first time seeing a headlining show from Bain and her bandmates. I arrived at the venue early to catch the opening set from Art School Girlfriend, the stage name for solo musician Polly Mackey from Margate, UK. Mackey took the stage on her own and captivated the audience with her experimental electronic sound, which had hints of influence from the likes of Zola Jesus and The xx. When Art School Girlfriend’s set started, the Monday night crowd had still been pretty thin as everyone still made their way to the venue from work— but by the end, the room had mostly filled in.
After a short changeover, Bain and her band took the stage to a hazy intro track, which faded into “Face Like Thunder,” from 2016’s EP Swim Against the Tide. Right away, Bain hooked the audience with her dreamy vocals, mesmerizing harmonies, and a tightness with her bandmates that brought the songs from her album to life in a really vivid way. Early on in the show, an audience member shouted out, “you’re my favorite artist!” (a sentiment that I think many people in the crowd shared) and passed a bouquet of flowers to Bain. That moment set up the night to become even more special, as a room full of strangers bonded over a shared love of an artist. Bain also did a great job at crafting a setlist that highlighted the best parts of The Japanese House’s discography, including a throwback to “Still” from her 2015 debut EP, which the crowd seemed to love. The audience also eagerly soaked up the performance of newer songs, like “Follow My Girl” and “Lilo” from the the new album.
The Japanese House’s show on Monday provided an oasis-like escape for fans to hear some of the new material performed live for the first time. If you weren’t able to attend, relive some of the magic by checking out photos from the evening below, and see where you can catch The Japanese House on tour next here.