This past week, the Shrine Exposition Hall was blessed by the graceful presence of Mitski for two consecutive nights. In the form of a 23-song showcase, the indie singer-songwriter used her sentimental narrative and theatrical choreography to bring euphoric bliss to her fans, after a 3-year touring hiatus.
Mitski is not the conventional superstar of the music industry. In this hyper-digital age, she has opted to stay off social media, and her personal life has remained largely a mystery. However, compared to her contemporaries in the indie scene, she has quite literally possessed a fanatically unmatched fanbase.
It felt not too long ago when Mitski decided to stop touring indefinitely and was earnestly ready to quit music due to the toxic consumerist mindset of the industry. Although a devastating blow to her fans and the indie community at the time, much of her hiatus coincided with the timeline of the global pandemic, during which she actually grew her cultish fanbase - almost entirely organically. Now, she has accumulated over a billion streams on Spotify and garnered ten million monthly listeners.
One might attribute part of that growth to her virality on TikTok, or make foolish claims that she is merely the product of Asian-American tokenism. But the truth is, Mitski’s secret formula to success is unreplicable because her artistry is one-of-a-kind.
“Mitski” has grown to become more than just her name - it’s the collective embodiment of her craft - her music, character, theatrics, stage presence, etc., which was gloriously displayed at the Shrine.
Throughout the night, her vocal performance sounded eerily similar to her studio recording, and she flawlessly interchanged between dancy hits and melancholic ballads, keeping the crowd on its toes. It was especially impressive to watch her sway so intently back-and-forth across the stage, while simultaneously managing the ravenous cravings of a crowd that roared every song back at her.
Although props were kept at a minimum, a paper airplane made an appearance to accompany her choreography during “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart.” After waving it around for the entirety of the song, she finally let her hand go and sent it into the abyss, giving one lucky fan a tangible taste of her magic.
Overall, new tunes like “Loved Me More” and “The Only Heartbreaker” created an unprecedented vibrance to the dancefloor, while the soon-to-be hall-of-fame tracks “Washing Machine Heart” and “Nobody” stood strong in the test of time.
Mitski recently released her sixth studio album, Laurel Hell on Dead Oceans. You can listen to it here.
Photos by Enoch Chuang: