On Saturday night, (Sandy) Alex G ended a string of tour dates back home by selling out Union Transfer. After five weeks on the road with Cende and Japanese Breakfast opening for him, the bands were in top form and you could feel the excitement as fans crowded the room. Throughout all three sets it was a fun, laid back gig, complete with Tom Cochrane’s “Life is the Highway” serving as entrance and exit music.
Cende started off the night very punctually, which is always a great start to any show. Playing for a full house and also a few family members, they delivered a solid set of high energy punk rock. To close their performance, Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast came out to sing with the band for “What I Want” from their new #1 Hit Single LP, also joined by (Sandy) Alex G’s violin player, Molly Germer.
Japanese Breakfast’s performance was impressive in itself; the band’s set drew heavily on its about-to-be-released sophomore LP, Soft Sounds from Another Planet, and the new songs slay live — particularly the slow groove of “Road Head,” the expansive “Driving Woman” and the aching pop of “Boyish” (technically a repurposed song from Zauner’s old band, Little Big League). The current JBrekkie lineup is also killer — mastermind Zauner on vocals, guitar and synth is backed by Craig Hendrix on drums and vocals (he co-produced the new record with her), bassist Devin Craige (late of Strand of Oaks and an old bud of Zauner’s from LBL) and Pytor Osipovich on guitar and keys.
The highlight came on the closing “Machinist” when Zauner dove into the crowd to dance along with the front row to the song’s driving electropop rhythm. She did this regularly when the band was playing DIY spaces and small venues; it’s cool to see it’s still a thing in Union Transfer sized rooms.
From the moment (Sandy) Alex G stepped on stage to set up his equipment, the faces of folks crowding the front row lit up and stayed lit all the way through the night. His 27-song setlist was made up partly of pre-planned songs and partly of audience requests, including a cover of Blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?” thrown into the mix. The new Rocket was well represented, from the folksy “Bobby” — where Germer’s violin playing shone — to the wild industrial madness of “Brick,” were Alex hunched over a keyboard and shrieked in wild Trent Reznor mode.
Halfway through the set, he announced the planned portion of their setlist was over and asked for audience requests — the crowd just began chaotically shouting song names, and he deadpanned “I didn’t understand any of that.” The band continued onward, going deep on old cuts and stretching their set out to 90 minutes, bringing Zauner out once again (truly she was the MVP of this show) to do backup vocals on “Brite Boy.”
The night came to a close with a free for all on stage with members of all three bands rushing the stage, making noise, knocking around the drums, playing any and all instruments and generally creating delightful chaos.
Check out photos of the show below.
(Sandy) Alex G Setlist
What’s My Age Again? (blink‐182 cover)
Brite Boy (with Japanese Breakfast)
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