The Japanese House - The Foundry, Philadelphia, 5/26/2019, The Foundry Crowd Gave Amber Bain the Old Philadelphia Welcome; Art School Girlfriend Opened With Polly Mackey's Songcraft with a Side of Electronics

Photo: Courtesy of The Japanese House

The Japanese House played The Foundry reportedly for the fourth time, on Sunday night, May 26th. The Foundry is located inside the Fillmore in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia. The Japanese House is essentially Amber Bain, a musician, singer, and songwriter from England. Judging by the reception she got from the sold out Foundry, the crowd reaction sounded much louder than the venue's capacity of 450.

The crowd sang along throughout the set, and not just when asked. I was imagining that this must be what her performances might be like at home; at least we made her feel welcome here in Philadelphia. Home (away from home) is the place, incidentally, that was the source of the name. As the story goes, when Bain was young, her family went on holiday and stayed in Kate Winslet's house, which was called The Japanese House.

The Japanese House first caught my ear when I heard a single included in one of Lee Bennett's excellent playlists associated with his blog Teases and Dares. The promise of that single was more than realized when The Japanese House released their first full length album, Good At Falling, earlier this year after four solid EPs. The songwriting was exceptional and the execution was superb. At times, the album reminds of Imogen Heap's breakthrough record, Speak For Yourself, while being totally original and highly personal.

The set contained a nice mix of most of the new album along with some well chosen prior tunes. The crowd loved every one of them. There was a nifty cover version of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" contained within Bain's own composition "Saw You In A Dream"; nice.

As a full band, The Japanese House sounded phenomenal. Bain handled the lead vocals and played electric guitar throughout. The rhythm section, when it kicked in, sounded like the bass and drums were so in sync it was mind blowing, as you can hear in the videos below. The band also included a keyboard player who contributed some background vocals and duetted with Bain as well.

Watch "Lilo", and enjoy the audience participation.

Setlist: Click on linked songs to watch
01. Intro
02. Face Like Thunder
03. Cool Blue
04. We Talk All the Time
05. Somebody You Found
06. Lilo
07. Follow My Girl
08. Still
09. Sister/Everybody Hates Me
10. f a r a w a y
11. Saw You In A Dream - includes "Dreams" (Fleetwood Mac cover)
12. You Seemed So Happy
13. We Went To Meet Her
14. Maybe You're The Reason
15. Leon
16. Worms
17. Clean

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Photo: Courtesy of Art School Girlfriend

Art School Girlfriend is the group name used by Polly Mackey, an electronic musician, singer, and songwriter. She is currently touring with The Japanese House, another instance of pairing artists who have significant potential to appeal to each other's audience.

Mackay possesses a terrific voice. At The Foundry she played guitar and also controlled the electronics using a rig that included a laptop computer. The full sound of Art School Girlfriend was the result of her remarkable solo performance.

Art School Girlfriend has released two EPs and a number of singles. She opened with "Bending Back", which came from her debut EP Measures (2017). There were two songs, "Low" and "Distance (Blank)" from her second and latest EP Into the Blue Hour (2018). Her set included two recent singles from this year, "Come Back To Me" and "Diving", and she did one composition "Eyes On You" that has yet to be released. According to Mackay, it will likely be on her next record, in 2020.

Seeing Art School Girlfriend open for The Japanese House at The Foundry was an unexpected treat.

Watch "Bending Back"

Setlist: Click on linked songs to watch
01 Bending Back
02 Come Back To Me
03 Diving
04 Low
05 Eyes On You
06 Distance (Blank)

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