Like most other Mitski fans (whether they admit to it or not), I have spent many a night in my room gross-crying along to “First Love/Late Spring” and scream-crying along to “Your Best American Girl”. She is an artist known for her darkly poetic lyrics spliced between soft, solo basslines and aggressive guitar and drum pick-ups, so I was unsure of whether or not her music would allow for a compelling stage performance. Mitski and her band stopped by the PhilaMOCA Friday June 24th , on tour to promote her new album Puberty 2; the intimate space of the venue allowed for a powerful emotional connection between the audience and the band, leading to a magical and moving night for all there.
Following the talented and dynamic opening acts of dreamy Jay Som and Philly’s own Japanese Breakfast, Mitski and her two-piece band quietly took the stage and started with a loud, riveting performance of crowd-amping favorite “Townie”, followed by an emotional and sonic shift to a beautiful rendition of “First Love/Late Spring”.
One of the most outstanding moments of the entire show, however, was Mitski’s sultry, heavy cover of Calvin Harris’ song “How Deep Is Your Love”. The song took on a dark, almost sinister, tone through her deep voice bolstered by screeching electric guitar and steady drums. It was quite an unexpected addition to the set list, and it added a refreshing dynamic to the entire performance.
Later in the show, another memorable moment was her loud, incessant performance of “Drunk Walk Home” a song which begins with the unforgiving declaration of “F*** you and your money”. The slow build of the song developed into a roaring culmination of Mitski screaming into the microphone in what seemed to be a cathartic display of raw emotion; it’s truly satisfying to see a woman unapologetically screaming in a way that commands the attention of everyone in the room.
Mitski ended the show by performing “A Burning Hill” from her new album and “Last Words of a Shooting Star” alone onstage- both melancholy and poetic in their melodic simplicity. It was arguably the most emotionally evocative songs of the night, and I can guarantee there were more wet eyes in the house than dry (mine included). After she ended and left the stage, she returned and did a brief encore of a new, unreleased song which seemed to be about a worn out relationship with no more love: “I fell in love with the war and nobody told me it ended”. There was some disappointment that she didn’t perform “Happy”, one of the singles off the new album, but it didn’t seem to dampen the mood of the night.
Mitski proved that not only is she a talented musician and lyricist, she can also put on a show and captivate an audience with her haunting voice and technical skills. Truly, an incredible night for all who were there.