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“In the End It Always Does”: The Japanese House leads a celebratory return to The Fillmore


Driven by the noticeably dichotic experience of a crowd singing along to every single word of Amber Bain’s effervescent vocals, The Japanese House (@thejapanesehouse) carried a vivid, sold-out performance at San Francisco’s Fillmore on November 21. 


The tour was spearheaded by the release of Bain’s sophomore album, In the End It Always Does and the historic Fillmore venue contributed the perfect atmosphere for the dreamy melancholia that she presented to her set. This was Bain’s second show at the Fillmore—her last appearance was over 4 years ago and the crowd doted on her return as she expressed how much she loved the city of San Francisco. 


quinnie (@quinnie) provided a lush, stripped-down opening set filled with percussive acoustic guitars sharing songs from her debut album which discussed nostalgic intimacies regarding her childhood, her parents, and her time in New York as she’s found her footing as a 20-something. On “flounder”, Hudson Pollock’s fingerstyle playing led the title track’s hypnotizing introduction. Pollock mentioned how they didn’t realize how much they would be playing the intricate riff they wrote for the song, before launching into it.

Photo Courtesy: Christina Bernardino


quinnie’s poignant closing song “gold star” was supplemented by Pollock’s riffs once again, this time on a lap steel, as the band brought an intimate lead into the more sanguine productional elements of The Japanese House.


The resounding collective roared once Bain took to the stage with her band. Opening with “Sad to Breathe” and “Touching Myself”, it showcased more of the funky, vocoder-like sensibilities that distinctly differentiate the newest record from Bain’s past works. 


The crowd was eager to connect with the band, especially when they began playing more of their older discography. Offering comforting nuances on the reclamation of queer identity and the dissolution of her last queer relationship, Bain sang the crowd into a melancholic sway with “Follow My Girl” and “Over There”, the latter produced by long-time collaborator Justin Vernon. 


The band maneuvered their performance whilst effervescent additions on saxophone embraced The Japanese House’s recognizable sound. On “Friends”, a collaboration with Charli XCX, the song was supported with the layering of a saturated bassline and a curated early 2000s-esque synth. 


Bain’s entire set felt celebratory, and her heartfelt self-reflections helped to capture such universal human experiences, connecting the pulse of the crowd with resonating themes of grief and catharsis. All the while, an emotional sureness and maturity, hovered above it all.


The band’s last few songs were driven by a cathedral of voices. The original recording of “Maybe You’re the Reason” includes heavy instances of double tracking. Still, the reverberating sounds of the crowd supported Bain’s live vocals, as was the case with “Dionne”. 


Concluding their set, Bain walked back onstage for an encore of “One for sorrow, two for Joni Jones” and “Sunshine Baby”. She dedicated “Joni” to her dachshund offstage and the crowd chanted an ubiquitous “happy birthday” to Joni. She was falling asleep, completely unaware of how mesmerized the crowd was listening to her song being played. 


The penultimate song, “Sunshine Baby” mused about accepting the end of a relationship, it included the cyclical lines of “putting off the end, ‘cause in the end it always does”, harking back to the title of the album. It encapsulated the resolute but hopeful feelings of her experiences—an orchestral, self-reflective bravado that Amber Bain had so expertly navigated all throughout her set and her newest record. 

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