Image courtesy of Ebru Yildiz
By Margaret Adams
Standing in the middle of the crowd filled with other high school and college students, many wearing fashionable balaclavas, impatience was taking over. Mitski was supposed to be on at 8:30 p.m., and as the digital clocks all ran 8:43 p.m. the hardcore fans in the GA at the Anthem are getting antsy.
Swaying back and forth and chatting with strangers about their favorite Mitski songs, everyone keeps an eye on the single door that stands in the middle of the empty, lit stage. One by one, the band members walk out and take their spots, and the screams from the front of the crowd get louder and louder.
Finally, the artificial curtains of the Anthem stage dim and the indie-pop star walks out to the invigorating bass line of her single “Love Me More.”
Mitski has arrived.
The genre-bending indie performer has taken Gen–Z by storm; sad pop anthems like “Nobody” and “Washing Machine Heart” take up space in the playlist of many of my friends and anyone who has a little app called TikTok. Despite a recent growth in popularity, Mitski has been producing music and performing throughout the 2010s, rounding out the end of the decade with her sixth album: Laurel Hell.
The concert opened with the up-beat pop-inspired songs from some of her more recent albums, electrifying the energy in the entire venue. One specific factor that kept the fans in the back literally on their toes was the lighting throughout the show. Not only did unique variations of red, blue, and green complement the songs and Mitski’s own choreography, but there would occasionally be a single spotlight coming down, just focussing on her and the microphone. When this happened, the usually loud Anthem would silence.
The fan favorites were performed: “First Love/Late Spring,” “Nobody,” “Your Best American Girl,” “I Bet On Losing Dogs,” and “Washing Machine Heart” were accompanied by the art-pop artist’s band and a couple hundred voices screaming along. But there were a few songs where Mitski’s voice was one of a few that could be heard. “Drunk Walk Home,” “Happy,” “Geyser,” “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart,” and “A Pearl” were some seemingly lesser-known songs that got the audience hooked. Whether you knew the song or not, you were definitely dancing along with Mitski.
On top of singing, Mitski also danced throughout her performance. Her dancing was a genuinely special part of the entire experience; her love for performance emanated from her movements. It added a visual aspect that back-up dancers and choreographers do not usually have the luxury of using: the songwriter’s own vision.
The whole experience ended much quicker than it began: it was only a few seconds after Mitsku exited the stage that she came right back on to perform her incredibly emotional and life-altering encore: “Two Slow Dancers.”
“Two Slow Dancers” is a song about lost young love. Even if you have never experienced love in high school, the song and the cold, single spotlight on the singer evoke a certain nostalgia that allows you to imagine yourself holding that one person, slow dancing at a school dance–“Does it smell like a school gymnasium in here? It’s funny how they’re all the same.”
As tear-stained faces waltzed out of the venue and into the 9℉ weather by The Wharf, the energy that Mitski gave out on stage continued through the streets, as mesmerized fans played her music and danced on their way to the Foggy-Bottom metro stop, singing, “Nobody, nobody, nobody, nobody…”