If you’ve been keeping up with my writing—And, I’m like, totally sure you do because I am just that interesting and whatnot—it’s been established that I’m somewhat of a huge fan of Japanese-American singer-songwriter, Mitski. Mitski’s one of favorite artists of all time, so you can imagine how excited I was that on March 27, I was lucky enough to see her during her “Laurel Hell” tour at the D.C. concert hall, The Anthem.
Although the concert itself didn’t actually start until 8:30PM, my concert journey began much earlier than that. I arrived at the venue around 3:00PM and waited until the doors opened at about 6:30. I joined my friend, Quynhan—Shoutout Quy—in line, who was fourth after waiting since 10:30am. #Dedication #DMVLovesYouMitski. Even though it was freezing cold and super windy, it was 100% worth it in the end. Side note, I almost showed up in a skirt and tights, instead of the jeans and fleece leggings under them that I ultimately ended up wearing. Dodged the biggest bullet of my life.
The show was general admission (GA), and as defined by Ticketmaster, in the context of the concert venue’s seating arrangements, GA means, “seating or standing areas that are not assigned or reserved, and are occupied on a first-come, first-served basis.” Hence why we were there so early. Not because we just love standing out in the cold for fun. Tips for any future concert-attendees, as inconvenient and tedious it may be, camping out is definitely worth it if you want barricade. For those not well-versed in concert lingo, barricade is basically when you’re at the front row, behind, you guessed it, the barricade, which is the closest area to the stage.
Being front-row was an out-of-body experience, I can’t get over it, and frankly, I don’t ever plan to. Like, I seriously still haven’t processed that I was right in front of her. It made the performance so much more awe-inducing because I was fully able to appreciate everything Mitski had to offer in all her glory. Like, there were just times I went completely silent and stared at Mitski in a kind of a “Oh my God, she’s absolutely unreal,” kind of way. Also, I made eye contact with her, kind of my greatest life accomplishment. Oh, Quynhan caught the paper airplane Mitski threw during “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart,” and I touched it. I touched the Mitski plane!! Mitski herself is also really sweet, and although she didn’t speak much, it was nonetheless evident how much she appreciates her fans. One moment that particularly stood out to me was when she paused the show mid-way to ensure that her fans were safe and got water. It’s not a horribly grand gesture, but it still conveyed her care for her fans nonetheless.
I think about something Mitski herself said a lot: “When I go onstage and am performing the way I want to… I finally feel like myself. Personally speaking, I could see that sentiment unfold through every single one of her performances. The unrelenting amount of precision and passion Mitski poured into every single song was awe-inducing. Like, you can just tell that she was meant to do this, that she belongs on a stage. I thought that her love for music and performing was perfectly translated into her performances.
Her set-list was phenomenal. She performed a couple songs from each of her albums, minus her debut, Lush,—What I’d do to hear “Bag of Bones” or “Abbey” live, though— and had a pretty cohesive set. Hearing one of my favorite songs ever, “First Love/Late Spring” live, was actually a fever dream. I’m still not entirely convinced that happened. Some of my other personal favorite performances were “Townie,” “I Don’t Smoke,” “I Will,” “Love Me More,” and “Geyser.” Is it obvious my favorite album is Bury Me At Makeout Creek? I thought closing out with “Two Slow Dancers” was also really fitting, too.
Mitski’s live vocals are actually insane, by the way. Like, she sounds better than the recordings. Her music live is just so much more heart wrenching and touching and stirring than you could ever imagine. Like, her music is already incredibly emotion-inducing on its own, but the fact that she was able to invoke even more feeling from me is such a feat. She truly goes above and beyond in her performances, which was more than evident in the incorporation of interpretive dance-esque routines throughout several of the songs, seen in her drunk stumbles in “Drunk Walk Home,” or her frantic scrubbing in attempts to clean herself up in “Love Me More.” Truly a stellar performer, in every sense of the word.
As for the crowd, my section was pretty cool. Everyone was super nice, and was singing, dancing, and being genuinely respectful to each other’s personal space, which added to my positive experience of the concert. We even got the crowd to cheer for Quy’s cat, Dumpy. Mitski fans love Dumpy! We also got them to boo white people, fun times. A little moment I particularly enjoyed was when Mitski sang “Washing Machine Heart,” and did “live karaoke” with the crowd. One of the most fun parts of a concert is when everyone is singing along together; It really makes you feel like you’re coming together, even in a room full of strangers.
In general, it seemed like everyone was having a good time and respecting concert etiquette in my section. Cannot say the same for the other areas. Mitski fans are … something, I’ll leave it at that. Not to be mean, actually no, I don’t care, but, can you guys stop treating artists like you know them personally. Please stop yelling weird stuff at someone who has literally not spoken to you, ever. Boundaries, guys, boundaries.
Honestly, I still haven’t totally processed that seeing Mitski live was a real experience I went through. Definitely a memory of a lifetime. Truthfully, I look up to Mitski a lot as an artist, and as a fellow Asian-American woman, so I really am so grateful that I had the opportunity to witness her artistry live. I definitely recommend listening to Mitski if you haven’t, especially if you consider yourself to be a fan of alternative music. Some songs I’d recommend first are the ones I mentioned before, “Dan the Dancer,” “Remember My Name,” “I Want You,” and “Square.