words by Katie Wighton // photos by Sarah Rix (@sarahrix)
“… Mitski is a laser beam. With a voice like champagne and lyrics like a splash of ice cold water in your face. Her melodies are a call to arms and the songs. Oh, Jim, the songs. .”
I walk in to The Corner with my date and we are both too excited for words. Neither of us is quite prepared though. First up in the night that changed everything is the fantastically named Moaning Lisa. These women are FIERCE, let me tell ya. They personify the fire emoji. They all have such sass and confidence and it is sexy AF. The bass player tells us that she was thrilled to be on this tour with Mitski – especially because she was on her period which meant she could fully experience all of her love for the woman. I think that's a pretty excellent summary of this band tbh. Unashamed of their womanhood and incredibly proud to stand on stage before the inimitable Mitski – their heroine.
They sing a song called Comfortable that celebrates singledom which super I'm into. They dance around the stage and play like bosses. There are so many women in the room and at the front of the stage and it really makes me appreciate how important it is to be visible. How else do we know we can do something if it isn't modelled for us? They sing a song about lady love called Carrie which is clearly a crowd favourite. I think these guys are a band to watch this year.
Now for God's set. I mean, Mitski's set. The curtains open and her band takes the stage to rapturous applause. When Mitski arrives she's lit with warm spotlights. She stands still and strong while she sings Remember My Name from her latest album Be The Cowboy. People are literally yelling the words. It's one of THOSE gigs. And anyone who wasn't there will be bummed they missed it.
Her voice is delicate above the razor sharp guitar playing fighting chords. She gestures slowly with a hand shaped like a gun. She puts her hand around her neck and it doesn't look like her own. Mitski has such incredible control – both physical and vocal. Nobody could possibly mess with her. No frickin way.
She plays Washing Machine Heart which, in two minutes, manages to capture an experience so perfectly personal yet so obviously universal that it floors me. “Toss your dirty shoes in my washing machine heart.” The keyboard player is so effortlessly cool it's disarming as she plays the riff that I WISH I could sing into this review.
First Love / Late Spring is probably one of my favourite songs and she sings this while gesturing like a doll. In her black and white outfit with her black knee pads. I get full body goosebumps when she sings THAT lyric “One word from you and I will jump off of this ledge I'm on baby.” Good god. What the actual heck. Then the key change makes my feelings spill out of my eyes and onto my cheeks. She's unwavering as she thanks the crowd and they scream - Mitski literally has a cult following.
Her movement on stage is so perfect for the songs and she totally captivates us. I know I keep quoting her lyrics but honestly she is the lyrical queen. “I look up at the gaps of sunlight, I miss you more than anything” from Francis Forever kills me every time. Somehow she captures exactly how I feel in a way I've never been able to describe.
Mitski's band are also sick. The twanging guitar and smashing drums. The heartthrob bass and effortlessly perfect keyboard player. They aren't “cool” but fuck they're cool. The guitarist and keyboardist are perfectly in sync with every riff they play as the bass player humbly keeps it all together.
Someone in the crowd yells “Be my wife!” before Mitski sings A Pearl - “You're growing tired of me” and I can't help thinking it's the perfect response. This song has more of those killer lyrics and a melody to go with it. “I fell in love with a war, nobody told me it ended” Wild.
The people in the audience are different kinds of people. They're not your average music lovers. They sing along to her sometimes insanely complicated melodies like it aint no thing. This is totally my kind of gig. My date and I find ourselves looking each other every now and then in total awe. We're both musicians and we vow to practice every day or quit. With Mitski at the helm there is absolutely no other choice.
The end of the set comes and I just don't want it to end. She finishes with Happy and after the second chorus she finally lets loose totally and the crowd goes mental. She's dancing around and flailing her arms like a rag doll and I feel exactly like her chorus lyrics “When you go take this heart, I'll make no more use of it when there's no more you” It's how I feel about you, Mitski.
There is, of course, an encore and Mitski comes out again to the sound of ridiculous applause. She looks up and says “Oh! The disco balls have been silently turning this whole time” and it really is so true. In all the ways. The disco balls turn and shine little stars on all of us while Mitski holds us all in the palm of her hand and unifies us all in our common emotional experiences. She finishes with Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart and the lyric “Cuz there's nobody better than you” which is absolutely perfect.
Mitksi 4EVA. *insert rock on hand emoji here*!!