"Fuck you and your money!" Mitski
screamed as she performed "Drunk Walk Home" off of 2014's Bury Me At Makeout Creek,
right smack in the middle of her set. It was during this exact moment that I confirmed that Mitski is indeed, one of the greatest singers and songwriters in the world right now.
It feels like Mitski strictly writes for herself and no one else - and maybe that's why the lyrics are so good and honest and natural - yet her songs appeal to nearly everyone. Feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, unrequited love from your big spoon, getting drunk and sitting outside alone, being raised differently from the rest... These are all things she sings about, and she sings about them like no one else.
I've listened to the indie rocker's discography a number of times (the number shall not be revealed, for it is embarrassingly high), but I've never had the chance to experience it live. That all changed last night at Villian, the tiny, artful venue located in the heart of Williamsburg. Mitski played her bass like a guitar, smothering it in crackling distortion, and played with two others - simply a drummer and guitarist, which was surprising since a lot of her latest album, Puberty 2
features synths and drum machines.
Most of her set contained a good balance of songs from Bury Me At Makeout Creek
and Puberty 2,
with a few from 2013's Retired from Sad, New Career in Business
thrown in for good measure. There was something slightly melancholy about the singer - she stood still and barely spoke, and when she screamed the angry songs, it felt authentic. She came off as graceful, calm, and modest. She did however break before a song to talk about the t-shirt she was wearing (I forgot exactly what it said so I spent the last half hour perusing her social media accounts to find a picture of her wearing it, found nothing, and instead ended up buying a regular Mitski t-shirt for myself). It said something like "mothers are sweet," and she told us that it was given to her by a fan and she thought that she'd wear it for the show because she wanted to bring some innocence to "dirty Brooklyn." Of course we all laughed.
After an emotional rendition of "I Will," the band played an instrumental tune as Mitski switched from electric bass to acoustic guitar, then stepped in and started ripping on the guitar as her band left the stage. Like her bass, her guitar was drenched in distortion and she strummed as hard as she could without breaking the strings, going into "My Body's Made Of Crushed Little Stars." "I wanna see the whole word / I don't know how I'm gonna pay rent"
she screamed, and you could just feel that the entire crowd was relating. For "Burning Hill," the room became scary quiet. Even Mitski herself was quiet, as she played the acoustic guitar softly this time, whispering lyrics about appreciating the littler things.
takes the listener through a lot of different genres - punk, rock, dream pop, etc. But when you see Mitski live, it's very much a punk rock show. She wears her bass low, she emits a shy-yet-punk attitude, everyone's playing is a little bit off (in a refreshing way), and well, there's a lot of screaming. No matter how she plays it though, Mitski's lyrics will always shine through.