Mitski: modern-day messiah for LGBTQ+

Mitski serenades the audience during her Feb. 19 performance at the Eastern. Mitski’s latest album, ‘Laurel Hell’ covers modern issues, such as abusive relationships, in her unique indie synth-pop style. // Photo by Elizabeth French Student Publications

Japanese-American indie rock artist Mitski just started her tour for her latest album “Laurel
Hell,” which was released on Feb. 4. 

Playing songs from her previous albums, including, “Be the Cowboy (2018),” she delivered a performance that had rock at its core, despite the more pop-ish feel of her latest release.

The set was simple but unique — the backdrop consisted of trees that created a thick forest, and a large, white door sat in the middle of the stage. 

This is reminiscent of the title “Laurel Hell,” which is another name for the Appalachian Mountains in the South. The forests are known to be so thick that people get trapped in them and die. 

There are also beautiful laurel flowers that bloom in these areas, and Mitski told Evan Minsker from Pitchfork that she “liked the notion of being stuck inside this explosion of flowers and perhaps even dying within one of them.”

Audiences who have never seen Mitski live before would not know what to expect, but even if they did, Mitski exceeded all expectations. Even lacking backup singers and dancers, Mitski gave a visually and audibly beautiful performance. 

Her interpretive dancing caught audiences by surprise. The way she moved across the stage was graceful, robotic, charming and terrifying. Her choreography incorporated rigid yet elegant movements with hand symbols scattered throughout. 

During her performance of “Nobody,” a fan favorite, she motioned her arms like the ticking hands of a clock, symbolizing the fear of time running out to find a partner or purpose in life as one grows older.

Many of Mitski’s songs involve themes about abusive relationships, whether they are platonic, familial or romantic and the complex thought processes that result from them. 

One of her more popular songs, “Me and My Husband,” encapsulates the feeling of wanting to be loved and feel important to someone. 

Throughout her performance of the song, she scratched at her arms, and at the end, she acted like she was choking herself, showing the suffocating feeling that abusive relationships hold on a person.

She also interacted with the crowd during “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart,” a ballad juxtaposing emotions commonly felt post-breakup. Near the end of the song, she grabbed a paper airplane and flew it around on stage before casting it off into the sea of hands beneath her. This represented the final good
bye to someone she once loved out of acceptance rather than clinging.

She finished the set with “Two Slow Dancers,” a slow, quiet song that contrasted her previous rock-heavy and pop songs. 

The rest of the band left, and the lights were set to a dark blue with the spotlight only on her. There remained only a single piano and her voice. It was overwhelmingly beautiful. 

This song is nostalgic of childhood and high school love, and when combined with Mitski’s awe-provoking voice, it is no surprise as to why this brought many people in the audience to tears. 

The song ended, and she said “I love you. Thank you,” three times, and she exited through the door.

Mitski is a lyrical genius whose music and legacy will live on for many years to come. The privilege and honor of seeing her perform is highly recommended for the next time she is in the Atlanta area.