Mitski evolves beautifully to the big stage at Wiltern, Los Angeles

Halfway through the week listeners gathered at LA’s own Wiltern theater for a relative night of music. The soldout show was for emo-indie rock goddess, Mitski. Stopping along her hefty U.S. tour in support of her fifth record, Be The Cowboy, Mitski proved her belonging once again. Along for support on tour was electronic duo, Overcoats. The two women spiced up the theater with their upbeat dance-alongs complete with beautiful harmonies. With one record Young under their belts, the two performed many, as well as a stunning rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” in honor of a friend having recently been a victim to gun violence. Excited to share they’re working on their second album, the duo happily performed a few unreleased tracks.

Without further ado, the show was truly about to get started. With lights now off and the overjoyed theater cheering, Mitski made her way to center stage.

The 28-year-old songwriter has written concretely stunning pieces throughout her career and with her latest release she’s shown no different. Opening with the gritty guitar riff track “Remember My Name”, off Be The Cowboy, fans were completely enthralled.

She blazed through the opening number with such a strong sense of assurance, which in some ways was fresh. Her live show has definitely evolved in such an incredible way since the last time I caught her at the intimate Echoplex in Echo Park a few years ago. While Mitski once stood alone on stage with just her bass guitar in hand, she was now backed by a full band and without her bass. Much like our favorite rock guru, St. Vincent, Mitski has created a performance filled with well-thought out interpretive expression and theatrics.

Mitski’s music has always been uniquely hers. I really don’t think there is an artist this year who has shown such sonic evolution in their work either. She continues to push the buttons of indie rock and does it ever gracefully. With sometimes delicate and melodic sounds, Mitski brings forth her utmost emotions and puts them right on the table to be consumed. In “Remember My Name” for instance, she pleads: “I gave too much of my heart tonight. Can you come to where I’m staying and make some extra love that I can save ’til tomorrow’s show?”

In interviews, Mitski has revealed her personal struggles with the limelight and feels only right in expressing her candid truth in her music.

While performing the song “I Don’t Smoke” off her third record Bury Me At Makeout Creek, she stood ever-still in front of the mic stand, tracing her hand in the shape of a gun along her chest and down her body.

Mitski also pleased devoted fans with a very generous set list filled with just as many songs off her previous albums as well as the latest.

Mitski dismissed her band at the end of the set and walked off stage herself to only come right back with an Acoustic-Electric guitar to perform a few tracks solo. She also took a moment to sincerely thank everyone for being there and gave truest gratitude to those who listen and continue to listen to her expression, for she wouldn’t be alive without it. She then performed the songs “A Burning Hill” and “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars” off her fourth record Puberty 2. The crowd was ever-attentive as she stroked the guitar strings and built the energy behind the songs even more. Although she left the stage, she didn’t stay gone for long as the crowd loudly chanted “MITSKI! MITSKI! MITSKI!”

She played a very beautiful encore of the ending song to Be The Cowboy, “Two Slow Dancers”. The simple yet meaningful song demands nostalgia from childhood romance shared at a dance. It’s a time-traveling sequence that brought tears to many. To end on a much happier note, Mitski took a moment to retrieve a gifted bouquet of roses from an audience member in the front row, and thank everyone once again with the choice to perform a quote on quote “Bandcamp oldie”, “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart”. It’s no surprise Mitski soldout every single show on her U.S. tour. Fans left with the biggest smiles on their faces and we all look forward to more from her.

Words & Photos: Danielle Gornbien

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