Emerson bands Pool Boys and Squitch open show for Japanese Breakfast


Em Spooner (center) and Denzil Leach (back) of Squitch will open for Japanese Breakfast with student band, Pool Boys. • Courtesy of Squitch

By Taina Millsap, Staff Writer

When WECB announced they wanted students to open for popular artist Japanese Breakfast, junior Jasper Cote and his rock band, Pool Boys, had their fingers crossed it would be them.

Once Pool Boys found out through event coordinator and junior Mia Manning that they were one of the two bands chosen, they were thrilled to be able to share the stage with talented artists. Pool Boys, along with Emerson student band Squitch, will open the show.

Cote said band members are excited to open for a popular indie rock artist like Japanese Breakfast.

“We haven’t played together in a very long time because I went to [Kasteel Well] last semester and then [band member Nicholas Arcari] was in Spain [last spring], so we really haven’t played out live in a very long time,” Cote said. “I’m super excited to play with my band again and also meeting Japanese Breakfast because I love them so much.”

Japanese Breakfast will perform at a free concert hosted by WECB radio station at the Robert J. Orchard stage in the Paramount Center on April 2 at 6 p.m.

WECB members distributed tickets—free with an Emerson ID—at the Paramount Theatre on March 22. Manning said tickets will be available at the door on the day of the concert. Tickets are available at the Paramount box office every day from noon to 6 p.m. until the concert. 

Sophomore Emily Bunn, the live music events team assistant for WECB, said the station chose the opening bands, Squitch and Pool Boys, because of their years of commitment and support of the radio station.

“We wanted to have Emerson students performing—that was something really important: to have a space and an outlet to showcase them,” Bunn said. “The two bands we picked, Squitch and Pool Boys, both contributed a lot to our WECB events in the past by performing and being involved in the organization, so we wanted to give them that platform because they’re both really talented groups of musicians.”

Five members make up the Pool Boys band, including Cote, Lorenzo Rossi ‘18, junior Arcari, senior Scott Hermenau, and junior William Petrillo—who attends the Wentworth Institute of Technology.

Cote said the band hopes to surprise the audience with new songs alongside an unannounced portion of the show.

“A good portion of what we’re performing is going to be new stuff,” Cote said. “We’re releasing a single on the same day, under ‘Pool Boys Presents: Stimulation Now,’ on every streaming platform. Then there’s a special second half of the act, but that’s kind of a surprise.”

Cote said the band looks forward to sharing the stage with Squitch. The Pool Boys will take the stage first, then Squitch, followed by the main act, Japanese Breakfast.

“We’re playing alongside with Squitch, and we’re very excited about that,” Cote said. “They’re just like ridiculously fun and super talented.”

Sophomore Em Spooner, the lead singer of Squitch, a math rock band, said they look forward to playing at the Paramount Theatre.  Other members include junior Emma Unterseher and Denzil Leach, a senior at Northeastern University.

“We’ve never played on that big of a stage before for that many people,” Spooner said. “That’s going to be pretty nerve-racking because it’s definitely a different kind of environment. But that’s also really exciting, and we’re looking forward to hopefully meeting [Michelle Zauner] and the rest of Japanese Breakfast.”

Spooner said Squitch will play a lot of songs from their last album, Uncle Steve in Spirit, along with their single “Rut,” set to release in the next week before the show.

“[Unterseher], [Leach], and l have all loved Japanese Breakfast for a couple of years now, so we’re super excited to get this opportunity,” Spooner said.

The event will be the second show on Japanese Breakfast’s international tour. Michelle Zauner, a Korean-American solo musician, tours with a permanent backup band. Zauner, who goes by Japanese Breakfast while performing, said she feels excited to get the tour started.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Zauner said in a phone interview. ”We’re going to try to bring in one new song that we’ve never played before. We’re also going to try one new cover too.”

Zauner said she looks forward to performing in Boston. Japanese Breakfast will play shows at the nightclub Royale on April 1 and 6.

“We’ve garnered more and more fans here over time, and a lot of people keep asking us to come back, so we are,” Zauner said. “They should expect to hear songs that they love, and hopefully the show will be intimate and fun.”

Manning and Bunn were both heavily involved in arranging for Japanese Breakfast to perform at Emerson. Manning and Bunn said they began corresponding with the band’s management to set up details, such as the tour schedule and prices, in May 2018. They declined to comment on the performance fees WECB paid performers.

Freshman Zichen Zhou said he has been listening to Japanese Breakfast for over a year and cannot wait to see her live.

“I actually bought tickets for the one at Royale because I was so excited,” Zhou said in a phone interview. “So now I’m going to their concert for two days in a row, and I can’t wait.”

As an Asian student, Zhou said he believes the rise of artists like Japanese Breakfast will open doors for other talented musicians of color.

“I feel like this is such a good thing because I grew up in China for the last 18 years listening to Asian musicians, but when I talk about them here, no one knows who I’m talking about,” Zhou said. “I’m so appreciative of WECB bringing Japanese Breakfast to Emerson because I think that can bring more people to know this band and make them fall in love with it. It’s just really great to have more Asian artists in the industry.”

In the process of choosing the artist, Manning felt especially excited about bringing Japanese Breakfast, an accomplished Asian-American artist, to perform.

“I really wanted to get an Asian-American artist to come to perform at Emerson, specifically because I am Asian-American, and because I think Japanese Breakfast is a great band and they have such a great stage presence,” Manning said. “There’s also a very big fanbase here at Emerson, and we really wanted to cater the music and the artist that we chose to what the community wants.”

Another Japanese Breakfast fan, freshman Kenneth Cox, said he hopes the concert will measure up to when he saw her live last June.

I’m a really big fan of their music and I’ve seen Japanese Breakfast live before, so I know that they put on a really great live show,” Cox said in a phone interview. “I’ve also seen Squitch playing at house shows and they’re really great, and I’m excited to see them as well.”