It’s the fourth time The Japanese House is headlining Philadelphia’s The Foundry, but you would never be able to tell given the excitement she exudes onstage and the audience’s welcoming, thrilling reception.
The Japanese House, aka Amber Bain, takes the stage casually smiling alongside her bandmates while the crowd cheers her on, and they open the show with “Face Like Thunder,” the lead single off The Japanese House’s third EP, Swim Against the Tide. A second deep cut, “Cool Blue,” off her second EP Clean, follows, and the devoted crowd sings along to all the words. Next comes “We Talk All the Time,” a single from The Japanese House’s latest project, her debut album Good at Falling, and Amber Bain and the crowd dance almost in coordination as they sing “We don’t fuck anymore, but we talk all the time so it’s fine.”
Bain is a small, unassuming person. She wears jeans and trainers onstage and, for a long time during her career, preferred to let her music do most of the talking. So it almost comes as a surprise when you see the 23-year-old commanding the crowd, swiveling the mic stand from her to the audience and begging them to sing along. “Saw You In a Dream,” the album closer, could have been an introspective and emotional moment as she strums the acoustic guitar and sings about dreaming about a friend who’s passed away, but she chooses to allow the crowd to do most of the singing, allowing them into her world and becoming one with her audience.
The passion glints from fans’ eyes as they stare at the artist, smiles printed across all faces in the room. The sold-out crowd is incredibly diverse, with middle-aged, bearded men and fifteen-year-old girls singing along to all The Japanese House’s lyrics alike.
The night is spent weaving through The Japanese House’s discography, with a special focus on tracks from her newly-released and pristine full-length. And though The Japanese House has grown and developed in sound and style since her debut single, “Still” in 2015, the moment where she sings four-year-old “Sister” to introduce the album track “Everybody Hates Me” serves as the perfect illustration of how everything in The Japanese House’s world is connected to one another. Different as both of these songs are, they blend together seamlessly and clearly inhabit the same world.
“Clean” closes the night, and its dreamy and glistening synthesizers drown the room in the perfect, joyful, and ethereal atmosphere that encapsulates what The Japanese House is. The lyric “And no matter what I do, I know you got me girl” rings throughout the room, almost like the audience is dedicating it to Bain. The loyalty and trust shown in the line are symbolic of the relationship Bain has with her fans: seeing The Japanese House live is at once experiencing her songs in a live setting and becoming completely taken by the audience’s reception to and relationship with the music and artist. It’s a connection that is at the forefront of every Japanese House show, one that can’t be forged or determined by streaming numbers – it’s true passion that can only result from music that’s made from and with the heart, and wearing her heart on her sleeve in her music is what makes The Japanese House so great and uniquely special.