Dominique Hua reviews the recent London gig by New York indie rocker, Mitski.
‘Hi, I know that I’m not very talkative during shows. I’m sorry, I’m a bit shy. Thank you for being here.’ Mitski – otherwise knows as Mitski Miyawaki, 26 year-old New York-based indie rock artist, singer-songwriter and twitter personality extraordinaire – interrupts her set to apologise. The crowd roars back at her, all whoops and clapping, and one can’t help but wonder how much of her apology is in response to an article written a few months ago, a bitter review railing against her unresponsiveness to the crowd she played to at Larimer Lounge. It is safe to assume that many of those attending her London performance (the last one of her European tour) screaming and clapping in approval and gratitude at her performance, have heard of or read the whiny article, yet still don’t give a damn.
There’s a pressure on entertainers, especially female ones, to engage with their audience, regardless of nervousness, tiredness or just general discomfort at having to talk to a crowd on top of performing. It seems odd, especially with artists like Mitski, whose songs detail the most intimate thoughts (lonely relationships, depression, imagining people being in her room after her death), that people still insist on a performance that is even more personal.
This is not to say, however, that there isn’t a reason why fans should desire a personal connection with the singer. Even just standing on stage, warming up with an almost prayer-like vocal scat, it was clear that she had the entire room captivated. Opening with ‘Townie’ and ‘First Love/ Late Spring’, the two singles taken from her sophomore album Bury Me at Makeout Creek, the crowd was immediately belting her lyrics, which speak of simultaneous disillusionment and lovesickness, back at her. Highlights of the set included her cover of Calvin Harris’ ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ (which was slowed down to an angst-ridden ballad), what felt like a minute-long note held on ‘Drunk Walk Home’, and the most recent single, ‘Your Best American Girl’, a clear fan favourite.
And, at the end, a closing solo. Until the last few songs, a guitarist and drummer had accompanied her, yet she performed the two mournful closing tracks off of her last albums, ‘A Burning Hill’ and ‘The Last Words of a Shooting Star’, alone. As she took her encore, something which she apparently rarely does, playing ‘My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars’, a loud, angry gem off her last album, it seemed impossible to believe that anyone could have mistaken her reservedness as an unwillingness to engage: the last three songs in particular see her bear her soul to a room full of strangers. There could not have been a single dry eye in the house – not as she sang of her resolve to love the littler things, and not as she smiled softly before walking off stage and out of our sights.