Photos by Morgan Winston
By: Mercy Xiong, Social Media Director
When you follow an artist long enough, there will come a time where you see them evolve as a performer. Fresh off the release for her critically-acclaimed fifth studio album Be the Cowboy, Mitski Miyawaki, mononymously known as Mitski, definitely did that. If you caught her on tour for Bury Me at Makeout Creek or Puberty 2, her performances were bare-boned. They featured her hiding behind a guitar, or bass, accompanied by another guitarist and drummer. It was what you would expect from a previous DIY performer. Cut to Mitski last Wednesday at The Sylvee and she was no longer anchored to a guitar. The singer was backed by a full band and now focused on theatrically performing her choreography and expressive movements.
There was nobody more fitting to open for Mitski than Jay Som. The guitar-heavy, lyrically dense indie pop artist started the night with “Turn Into,” a single from one of her earlier releases. Melina Duarte, lead singer of the band, radiated warmth and excitement as she took time in between songs to talk to the crowd. From the fuzzy indie pop anthem “The Bus Song,” to the hard rock tune “Turn Into,” to the dreamy ballad “I Think You’re Alright,” this set highlighted the band’s musical diversity in thirty short minutes.
Mitski set the tone for the night and dove straight into her act by walking on stage while singing “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart,” instantly captivating the crowd. The whimsical song was the perfect fit for her to croon as she meticulously moved around stage to get to her table and chair- which were unusual stage props. Without missing a beat, she dove right into her next song “Why Didn’t You Stop Me?” As she finished the song, Mitski’s well-known stoic face gazed the sold-out crowd. She briefly broke the fourth wall to acknowledge the audience and sincerely thanked each person present for choosing to spend their night at her show.
As the show progressed, her older songs took on a newer life through some passionate choreography that often mimed her lyrics. In “I Don’t Smoke,” Mitski pretended to carefully take a drag as she sang, “I don’t smoke/ Except for when I’m missing you.” Each body movement was articulately done with the table and chair. Mitski proved her dedication to perfecting her art by taking a whole new approach to her stage presence. On stage, she embodied a character that seemed to unravel song after song like in “Francis Forever” where she frantically paced around the stage.
The show was unlike any other show I’ve seen. Mitski was confident, bold and definitely more vulnerable. She showcased a side that even her truest fans were unfamiliar with. Her set was masterful and exhibited her growth as an artist and performer. If this is what Mitski will be bringing here on out, I definitely want more of it.