The Japanese House
Wooly’s, Des Moines, Iowa • December 1, 2023
On a chilly but invigorating first day of December 2023, I embarked on the familiar 4-hour round trip pilgrimage to my favorite Iowa music haven, Wooly’s in Des Moines. First established as a Woolworths in the 1950s, Wooly’s has evolved into a venue frequented by musicians spanning all genres, from Amanda Shires and Blackberry Smoke to Jade Bird, Colter Wall, Myles Kennedy, and GWAR. My mission that evening was no exception, featuring the unassumingly talented Quinnie as she and her band opened for the English musician from Buckinghamshire, The Japanese House.
Quinnie, accompanied by Hudson Pollock on guitar and Jake Weinberg on bass, took center stage, seated on a chair. The setting felt as intimate as a Friday night campfire. Throughout the evening, Quinnie seamlessly switched between guitar and a small keyboard on her left as she performed “Ripple,” “Itch,” “Baja,” and “Fade.” Her songwriting and storytelling is deeply personal, and as they finished with “Touch Tank,” and “Gold Star,” the audience moved back to her merch table to interact and support this talented artist. You can do the same by visiting her website or her Bandcamp, where you can purchase a number of her albums and EPs.
Amber Bain, who performs under the name The Japanese House, has steadily garnered a worldwide following since her first single “Still” in 2012. She opened the evening with “Sad To Breathe,” “Touching Yourself,” and “Morning Pages” from the newest album titled In The End It Always Does, as well as “Something Has To Change” from 2020’s Chewing Cotton Wool, and “Follow My Girl” and “Saw You In A Dream” from the 2019 album Good At Falling. As I took in the performance from the back of the venue, I couldn’t help but notice that The Japanese House had everyone, from the lighting tech and soundboard engineer to fans on the floor, dancing and thoroughly enjoying the evening’s performance.
Closing the show with “Maybe You’re The Reason” and “Dionne,” the encore featured another pair of songs from the new album, “One For Sorrow” and “Sunshine Baby.” The show was a great experience for my first encounter with this artist, her band, and her songs. They were exceptionally tight, and I look forward to seeing where Amber Bain’s creativity leads in the future. Visit the website to pick up vinyl, CD, cassette, and digital downloads of the albums and to stay updated on new releases.