Monday, June 20, 2016

Mitski at the Bowery Ballroom

Mitski Miyawaki was born in Japan, where her future music trajectory was informed by her mother's 1970s pop CDs. Her father's job caused her family to relocate frequently, and Mitski lived in 13 countries before she enrolled in college in Purchase, New York. Going by her singular first name, Mitski launched her music career while in college, self-releasing two albums, then moved again to New York City after graduation, where she would further her audience with two more breakout albums. Mitski released her fourth album, Puberty 2, on June 17, 2016.

Mitski's headlining gig at the Bowery Ballroom tonight was preceded by a cover story in Brooklyn magazine, a feature story in the Village Voice and coverage in several other local media. Mitski spoke in her interviews that her music reflects her issues of belonging due to her cross-cultural identity as "half Japanese, half American, but not fully either." Dozens of college-age women near the stage sang along with her odes to loneliness and attempted to get her attention, perhaps as if to say, "I am just like you." Mitski, dressed in a business-casual knit top and pencil skirt, appeared mature enough to be the mentor for young women sorting out their journeys, but yet seemed too young to be the cool mom. Playing bass, backed by a guitarist and drummer, Mitski soulfully sang songs that seemed thoughtful and personal, even when the images were closer to scattered stream-of-consciousness. From "Townie" to "Fireworks," plus two solo encores, Mitski had a rapt audience caught up in her sparsely-arranged songs. At the beginning of the set, Mitski remarked that the evening was a rare event, a convergence of both the summer solstice and a strawberry moon. Perhaps it was this cosmic cocktail that had her audience swooning symbiotically to her low-key music.

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