Mitski Gets Right to the Point at a Sold-Out Music Hall of Williamsburg

July 28th, 2016

Mitski – Music Hall of Williamsburg – July 27, 2016

Mitski – Music Hall of Williamsburg – July 27, 2016
In the unassuming manner that parallels the approach to her craft, Mitski Miyawaki took the stage last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg with just her trusty guitar and drummer. From the sight of the sold-out crowd of onlookers tightly pressing toward the front, you’d have thought some enthralling spectacle was about to begin, yet the rapt attraction was for a lone voice that has quietly become a sensation in the indie-music universe. The quaver of that voice, tenderly riding the smartly arranged songs she’s written, had the aesthetic of nimbly skimming above the babbles and currents of her guitar, like a darting river bird just above the surface of the water. It also revealed the raw emotional investment in the conception of the lyrics it delivers—lyrics that carry things from parts of self that don’t come out in the daylight, in a voice that is speaking to people in a manner transparently identifiable and profound.

Such have been the characteristics linked to Mitski’s since she composed her first two albums as music-school projects. Now, with her newest work, Puberty 2, a personal tour de force that has everyone gushing, her songwriting’s reach has extended, firmly grabbing hold of listeners. There’s irony in the sense received that the meaning she derives from the music she plays may be greater in isolation, in an empty room and as a means to cope. But Mitski’s first address of the crowd debunked this notion: “Thank you for letting my music be part of your lives…. Thank you for giving my music meaning.”

Over steady feedback buzz running in the background, Mitski coursed through a quick set of well-chosen songs that got right to the point of her purpose. It was a reminder that amidst all of the common hoopla of live performance, the bells and whistles of display and texture and atmosphere building, all you may really need is singular emotion on a stage, communicated through a telepathic syncing of guitar-and-drum pattern. Mitski showed that engaging mixture of vulnerability with badass posturing, at one point letting down her hair as the torment of her expression reached its peak. Although these were songs distinctly from a young woman’s perspective, everyone was equally transfixed, subdued by the power of songwriting that stands on its own. Mitski is Sharon Van Etten with bruised elbows, inspiring through resilient defiance in song. —Charles Steinberg | @Challyolly

Photos courtesy of Julia Berke |