Arts, Music, Off Campus

Mitski Electrifies House of Blues

An enthusiastic crowd filled the House of Blues on Saturday night as Mitski’s opening act took center stage—two women stood in matching overcoat sets, one in gray, the other in brown. They stood perfectly still, before erupting into dance, and breaking into flawless harmonies layered over an electronic beat. Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell of Overcoats gave a captivating performance, highlighting a blending of a variety of styles to create something truly unique.

The duo’s electronic style was beautifully accented with notes of powerful, almost folksy, bluegrass vocal stylings, accompanied by a single percussionist. The dreamy, mellow beat and production throughout their set invigorated the audience, but one could easily imagine hearing the duo’s crooning over a minimalistic, acoustic guitar.

In one of the highlights of the night, Overcoats payed homage to women through their song, “The Fog.” Over the heavily produced track, Mitchell held the mic to her lips, and simply spoke, “The future is believing women.” The lyrics of the song centered around freedom from an abusive relationship, and the entire audience revelled in this powerful statement.

Suddenly, under ambient purple lights, a wall of guitar shook the ground and signified the opening chords of “Remember My Name,” as Mitski took the stage, to roaring cheers from her devoted fans. Riding the waves of the release of her most recent album, Be The Cowboy, Mitski’s powerful, evocative lyrics and gorgeous, dulcet voice flowed ethereally from song to song.  

The screens behind the band showed in black and white as a loophole spun, giving the stage a psychedelic feel. Breaking into her next song, “Washing Machine Heart” with robotic dance moves, Mitski crooned the lyrics her new song. One of her most popular, songs, “Nobody,” a power-anthem and ode to loneliness, elicited a wave of dancing from the crowd.

The singer has stated in interviews that Be The Cowboy is a bit of a character study, where she explores her own identity as an Asian-American woman, but through the lens of a repressed, icy woman. Nowhere is this more apparent than in her song, “Me and My Husband,” where she embodied the character of a repressed suburban housewife whose emotions are strained. This was apparent through her strange, exaggerated dance moves—stilted, yet somehow wild and unpredictable.

With the next song, her face went deadpan, and she began to pace back forth across the stage. As she picked up speed, her face remained blank, as she crooned her melancholy yet humorous song, “Why Didn’t You Stop Me?”

In a more moving moment of the night, the singer thanked her audience, admitting her terrible fear of people.

“I’m actually terrified of people, because I know what they’re capable of,” Mitski said. “But when people like you come out here, and allow me to exist, it reminds me of what people are capable of, in a positive way.”  

For a moment, her band stepped away, and Mitski briefly exited the stage, only to return with her own acoustic guitar for a beautifully raw, stripped down performance of her song, “A Burning Hill.” Finally, Mitski ended her show on a beautiful, emotionally-charged note, with her atmospheric ballad, “Two Slow Dancers.” Violins and a sole piano accompanied Mitski as she closed the show with the haunting lyric, “We’re just two slow dancers, last ones out.”

Throughout the night, from fierce, uptempo songs, to more delicate, soft ballads, each of Mitski’s songs was steeped in meaning, mixing crushingly sad and humorous lyrics. Mitski flawlessly conveys a sense of incredible emotional vulnerability which few artists touch on in quite the same way.

Featured Image by Dead Oceans

October 21, 2018