It’s 6:30 p.m.; my roommate (who is also my best friend) and I arrive at The Ritz inappropriately dressed for the 40 degree weather and the sun is no longer in the sky to spread its warmth on us. Shivering violently in the cold, we play games to pass the time, trying to tune out the droning of the somewhat-obnoxious 16 year olds behind us in line that had just been dropped off by their parents. At 7:05, the line starts moving and we’re ushered closer and closer to indoors. Finally, we make it inside, and decide to head up to the balcony to get a better view. I can see my old roommate (another best friend of mine) in the front row, her neon pink hair contrasting against the blobs of blonde and brown surrounding her.
CHAI, a Japanese rock band, opens and their energy is electric. The quartet of women sings, dances, and sets the energy for the night.
After the purchase of a five dollar can of water, some patient waiting and more games to pass the time, the lights finally dim. Mitski’s band walks out before her, and then I see her. She is draped in a beautiful ankle-length white gown. She stays mostly still for the first song, “Love Me More,” and I cannot see her behind the pillar directly in my line of vision. After the second song she performs, “Should’ve Been Me” she asks in a saccharine sweet demeanor for the audience to turn the flash on their cameras off, and professes how grateful she is to be here.
Her set list is 23 songs long, and she doesn’t deviate from it. The set list only includes six songs from “Laurel Hell” and the rest is comprised of her revisiting her older work. Her choreography is timed down to the second, she prances across the stage, running and dancing, making herself look vulnerable to the audience, but never seeming to look anyone directly in the eye.
My favorite Mitski song is “I Will” off of “Bury Me At Makeout Creek.” My aforementioned old roommate introduced it to me our freshman year. We had decided to room together our freshman year at NC State because we found out we were both Mitski fans, but in reality, I only knew one song… “Nobody.” She showed me “I Will” and told me it was one of her favorite songs ever.
Directly after “Nobody,” the tenth song of the night, Mitski begins singing “I Will.” I focus my attention on my freshman year roommate in the front row, watching as she sees Mitski perform this right in front of her. I don’t cry at concerts, I get weird about crying in front of other people. I sob. “Everything you feel is good / If you would only let you.”
Mitski only engages in stage talk twice more, once before her fake-exit pre-encore, saying the standard “thank you so much” and once more after the encore, “Two Slow Dancers”. There’s a prop-door on stage she exits through, but since I’m on the balcony I can see her slip behind the stage’s velvet grey curtains. The post-show song is “Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft (The Recognized Anthem Of World Contact Day)” by The Carpenters.
I leave The Ritz feeling fulfilled and grateful that I got to see Mitski live. She is a stunning vocal performer, a talented artist and a wonderful lyricist.