Mitski, Live In Concert: SXSW 2016

March 20, 2016 - bbq set

We have a advantage of hindsight when it comes to 1950s and ’60s cocktail music. Songs about motorcycle crashes and damaged hearts sound old-fashioned now, though a honeyed harmonies and four-on-the-floor beats reflected genuine anxieties of teenagers and twentysomethings. Mitski Miyawaki — who annals underneath her initial name — creates song that looks to that era, both in character and substance. The 25-year-old Brooklyn songwriter channels a “pop” thoughtfulness of bland trauma. This is realness, mostly riddled with feedback, though some-more mostly sung in still and dynamic desperation.

This is because when she played a SXSW showcase, we could be forgiven in meditative that her songs about loss, heartbreak, aimlessness and temperament lift a dim weight. Largely culling from 2014’s Bury Me At Makeout Creek, Mitski’s set was gangling in a instrumentation, though cavernous in emotion. “Townie,” a quite doomy “I Don’t Smoke” and a feedback-squealing closer “Drunk Walk Home” derailed into foam and furious outspoken acrobatics, while “First Love” felt like a bedroom confessional.

But Mitski also achieved dual songs from a stirring Puberty 2, a record that opens adult her sonic and musical palette. “Once More to See You,” removing a initial ambience here, is like something out of a pale dream, with a space between guitar records that’s deliberate, nonetheless disorienting. Mitski lets her voice breathe by a pauses like a loll thespian left alone in velvet room. When she spoke with NPR about “Your Best American Girl,” she said, “I am half Japanese, and it came from wanting to only fit into this really American person’s life and simply not being means to.” In Austin, it’s a scorcher, riddled with sludgy exaggeration and crashing cymbals as if someone set off fireworks only above a stage.

Set List
  • “Townie”
  • “First Love”
  • “I Want You”
  • “Francis Forever”
  • “I Don’t Smoke”
  • “Once More To See You”
  • “Your Best American Girl”
  • “I Will”
  • “Drunk Walk Home”

Producers: Saidah Blount, Mito Habe-Evans, Otis Hart; Technical Director: Josh Rogosin; Director: Mito Habe-Evans; Videographers: Nickolai Hammar, Katie Hayes Luke, Cameron Robert, A.J. Wilhelm, Lizzie Chen; Editor: Cameron Robert; Audio: Timothy Powell/Metro Mobile; Assistant Audio Engineer: Loretta Rae; Production Assistants: Erin Conlon, Nathan Gaar; Editors: Niki Walker, Kara Frame. Photography: Adam Kissick. Special Thanks: SXSW, Stubb’s BBQ; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann.

Support for NPR Music comes from Blue Microphone.

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