What is it to express monstrosity as a woman?
Mitski’s entire repertoire seems to cling to this question. His closing performance on the first night of the second annual Day in Day Out festival at the Fisher Pavilion over the weekend featured themes of emotional anguish, torture and misery.
On stage, the artist expresses himself through a tonal range superimposing decadence on the brutality of his bass lines and crushing percussion, the guitarists surrounding him like an orchestra. Immersed in a blue light, she attracted her audience like an electromagnetic field.
During songs like “I Will” or “I Bet on Losing Dogs,” Mitski danced in an almost carnivorous fashion, reaching out like a mechanical puppet, shaking, and fading away. At other times, she warped her carnal self into a creature of aberration.
“My baby, my baby…” Mitski sang in “I Bet on Losing Dogs,” staring at the crowd with carefree intensity, syllables punctuated with jerky movements. In the theatricality of his world, Mitski is a mime. As her alto transformed into a cold window-clear soprano, the crowd went ecstatic, her ascent echoing in the plexus beats of her bass drums.
From the legacy of grunge and DIY, Mitski cobbles together a neo-punk machine for pain that floats towards her – and towards us – in the calm of a hot summer night, the clean and damp cracked sidewalks of torrents of passing rain.
Through his words, we grasp what it means to live while constantly being hit by meteors of grief and rage. Mitski knows the impossibility that is life without a keen sense of critical self-examination, in which the ego one knows is far more vile, far more deplorable, than we like to admit on the surface. of our consciousness.
Some of his lyrics draw on the degraded poetics of legends like Nirvana. “Stay Soft” exudes silvery violence in its sexual expressions. Nirvana’s “Blew” conveys a sense of claustrophobia around the straitjacket structures of respectability. Mitski’s philosophy is similar: it forces us to see her as she is.
Melodies that float over Mitski’s crushing chords echo an eerie sentimentality of lost innocence. These are the postlapsarian serenades of a woman who faced the darkness and came back to tell her stories.
“This will be our last song,” Mitski announced before launching into a rendition of “A Pearl.” The crowd groans collectively. She stopped, then said, “Everything stops, darling!”