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Concert Review: Mannequin Pussy & Japanese Breakfast at The Orange Peel

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Bands that are able to be both stark oxymorons and close complements, in two different genre worlds, yet simultaneously able to mesh together like puzzle pieces, are hard to find. This is exactly what I was thinking going into a concert with the bands Mannequin Pussy and Japanese Breakfast.

The two groups are vastly different in sound. Mannequin Pussy, a hard punk group, and Japanese Breakfast, a typically singer-songwriter-grounded pop group, announced this tour together, and I thought it was as weird as dunking a Grillo's pickle spear in a vat of Nutella. But after hearing them both play back to back, I can now confirm that it tast-sounded truly amazing.

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My boyfriend and I drove to Asheville, NC for this night of zestful sound at The Orange Peel. It’s a cool venue, standing room only, with plenty of room for the large sold-out crowd. We stood outside the venue for an hour before doors in our excitement for some real, indoor showage, and we managed to get to the front of the crowd.

Side note: the crowd was so kind, people up front left to use the bathroom, and no one pushed to fill in. Additional side note: we had to leave a sausage roll we bought at a grocery store on the curb outside (we bought it in case we were hungry in line.) Updates on the roll later.

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At about 8pm, the music started. Mannequin Pussy was the opener, and they rocked it. There were a lot of punk fans in the crowd, and a friendly mosh pit evolved throughout the night.  At their third show of the tour, Missy’s voice was already hoarse, because many of their songs involve passionate yelling. Despite her strained vocal cords, the songs remained even more epic.

Missy also looked like the coolest woman ever that I want to be. She wore a vibrant blue, checkered pants suit (she said is from Macy’s), a royal blue bralette, and a green guitar that contrasted beautifully with her pink hair. Yes, this is slowly becoming a fashion review.

The bassist and Missy switched roles for a short song (I think "Pigs is Pigs"), and it was really good. "Drunk II" was the crowd favorite. With some high energy, everyone sweating on each other, jumping everywhere, ceaseless head bobbing, and hair whipping, Mannequin Pussy was a riot. At the end of the last song, my boyfriend made a glorious leap for the guitar player’s pick, and he caught it. It was beautiful.

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In between sets, the nice people at The Orange Peel gave us free water bottles. During our cool down, my boyfriend and I were wondering how Japanese Breakfast would fare after such a high energy group. Would we be lulled to a blissful sleep after such a burner?

After some setting up, and some brief yet heavy admiring of the guitar player’s boots while he helped set up the stage, it was time for Japanese Breakfast to get up there. A reassuring hum of some ethereal synth made the crowd hush slightly, and my favorite song off the album started playing: "Paprika". It was very similar to the show they did on Jimmy Kimmel, and it was so lovely.

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Michelle Zauner looked like the mother pixie of the dream girls. Tall, black, chunky Doc Marten boots with silver buckles, a bubble-shaped black and white maxi dress, a beautifully drawn tattoo sleeve on her arm, and her tiny little body swinging all around the stage. She smiled out into the crowd for every song, clearly in a state of bliss to be back performing again.

Her husband is the lead guitarist, and they shared sweet glances throughout the night. The drummer sang a duet from one of Zauner's old bands at one point. Other favorites from the night were “Everybody Wants to Love You” and “In Hell.”

She shared a really sweet story from her song “Posing for Cars” about herself and her husband high on mushrooms, being paranoid by each car that passed, and trying to act natural by striking very unnatural poses. As they left the stage, the crowd stomped their feet for a wonderful encore.

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At the end of the night, we said goodbye to our kind crowd neighbors, and my boyfriend, ever the persistent music lover, begged for, and received, one of the copies of the set list from the crew.

We left the venue, threw away the sad little sausage roll we left outside (which was intact but had become soggy in some unexpected rain) and went to stay at our cheap yet super cool Airbnb, but that’s not a story for a music blog. Anyway, there are bruises on my elbows, and my neck slightly hurts, and I couldn't be happier. Two great bands, and an amazing night. Here’s to live music!


Check out Japanese Breakfast and Mannequin Pussy, and be sure to follow The Orange Peel for other cool upcoming concerts! Also feel free to check out Groove Girl's review of Japanese Breakfast's newest album: Jubilee. Groove Girl and T-Roy will be back on the air waves in less than a month, so keep your eye out for the fall show schedule!


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