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Mitski at the Met Philadelphia, February 6, 2024


(Photo Credit: Jesse Stowe)

 

Mitski is a poignant example of the melting-pot creativity that exists on the outskirts of the current music industry, and seeing her performance strengthens that description.

 

Key words to remember: Americana, folk rock, slide guitar, lounge jazz, Brijean Murphy, conga drums, Butoh, Patsy Cline, Norah Jones, Lana Del Ray, heroin sheik, melodrama, Nashville, Japan, vegan, and “delusional diva.”

 

Lessons from a Seasoned Reviewer

A mentor I have worked with since 2021 has told me multiple times that when she describes live music, it comes out in color. I love the idea, so sitting at my excellent seat in the Met Philadelphia, I decided that I was going to listen, close my eyes, and see what colors the music presented to me. A new exercise at a seated performance that was going to help me break away from my typical format. (I did not succeed in either.)


Waiting for Mitski (and Brijean, one of the percussionists and one of my favorite musicians to write about), I noticed the stage setup and the colors. The Met Philadelphia is a perfect stage for eccentric and unique performances, and Mitski’s show delivered with the addition of a circular center stage hidden by a cylindrical red curtain and two blue spotlights on both sides. It reminded me of a spacecraft landing. Maybe Mitski is a musical genius from a planet in a distant galaxy.

 


(Photo Credit: Jesse Stowe)

 

The Audience

I have been listening to music as long as I can remember and have gone through many stages and moods: punk, post-punk, neo-soul, R&B, pop, rock, alt-rock, hip-hop, lounge jazz, big band jazz, experimental jazz, classical, and opera (to name a few). I like to believe that I am open to different styles and audiences that vary from show to show but typically remain unsurprising. With the lights on between Tamino’s performance and Mitski’s, I had the opportunity to look around and see who was attending the sold-out show; I was amazed by the age of her fans. Looking like they were in their early twenties, they sat in their seats and quietly talked amongst themselves, many drinking Liquid Death.


That said, I have learned much about younger music fans over the last year; the world’s weight is on their shoulders, and it is shown through a lot of music. ADHD is not one of their defining traits like my generation. At concerts like Mitski’s or Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s, fans attentively listened instead of carelessly bouncing around like I did at that age. While I have seen and experienced this over the last couple of years, observing such a respectful audience like the one that attended Mitski’s performance still immensely impressed me.

 

Finally, The F’n Music Review

The Mitski performance began.


She began outside the red cylinder. The crowd was obviously in love with her. However, I was completely taken aback by the music. Though I listen to Mitski—mainly on a couple of Chill Sunday playlists—and have friends who love her, hearing her voice live was an experience I was not expecting. I had not heard such a voice in person since seeing Norah Jones nearly ten years ago. She sang effortlessly, which is a sign of having a gift.


I blocked those thoughts, closed my eyes, and thought, what colors do I see?


Sitting in my seat with my eyes closed at the Met Philadelphia on February 6, 2024, I realized I do not experience music through colors. Some danced in the background, but my focus was always on images of people and places. Norah Jones was an easy one for me to accept. Lana Del Ray, who also crept into my visions, also seemed fitting. However, the small bar and restaurant in Eaton, Ohio, called Yoder’s Sail Inn, was the last place I expected to go. No longer open and not really a music venue, I heard live music played in the restaurant’s backroom twice.


I opened my eyes and tried to shake off the thought. Focusing my attention back on the stage for “Everyone,” Mitski had gone into the cylindrical red. My favorite part of her performance, her shadow grew behind the curtain and became majestic. (I wish my photographer had not been held up at work.) Her voice matched the image, but it reminded me of Patsy Cline this time. I closed my eyes; the image of Yoder’s Sail Inn returned, and I realized that it was the slide guitar and the fiddle, not the voice. (I’m referring to hearing country western music in a rural community far from a city like Philadelphia.)


With eyes opened, I watched Mitski’s interpretation of Butoh as she sang. The melodrama in his movements matched that of her lyrics and vocals. However, the music that played like a soundtrack to Mitski’s performance was a mixture of Americana, folk rock, lounge jazz, and indie. Written down, it feels like an eclectic conglomeration, but Mitski’s movements sowed it all together as she kept her audiences’ attention the entire show.

 

Thoughts Settling In

It took me multiple days of talking about the Mitski concert for me to be able to sit down and write out my thoughts. Her performance was unlike anything I had ever seen, and thoughts about the audience still amazed me. Had the band been hidden in the theater chamber, I would have called what she did a musical monologue. The focus was on her and what she was saying, as if her on-stage presence and the loneliness it represented connected with the audience of primarily young adults.


Maybe Mitski presented the story of a generation of individuals who long to connect with a community yet do not know how. Maybe, in a world full of growing chaos and doubt, truth has to be communicated in obscurity so it cannot be misrepresented. Maybe the needed change rests in bringing down that red cylindrical curtain we hide behind, the one that distorts our true self, and in stepping off our safe circular stage. We are not alone; we are a community of sensitive individuals who have emotions and feelings and are capable of listening attentively.

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