MITSKI @ THE GLASS HOUSE IN POMONA, 4/20
After Mitski, an alternative rock artist from New York, closed her performance at the Glass House in Pomona upon completing her encore, the calm yet pressed crowd began to shout "One more song, one more song," until the stage lights ultimately dimmed and the house music switched on. It was a rarely heard, an audience passionately requesting a second encore after the artist had already left the stage and returned once more.
This is the appeal of Mitski, I think. Her third album, Puberty 2, was released nearly a year ago, and she is currently touring North America before moving on to Europe; she is a biracial Japanese-American, but she has fought to establish herself as an artist first, untying her music from labels that call her Asian American. Her sound is shocking and her performances so raw, she offers an ability to share her personal experiences, and maybe cultural, in her single Your Best American Girl, while still creating an artistry that is overwhelmingly captivating by any standard.
The show was opened by Steady Holiday, an indie-pop project by Dre Babinski, who is half Japanese and half Polish. She tied familiar, soothing slow beats with the sharp strings of her violin, which she played over instrumentals projected from her iPhone. Springtime Carnivore, a solo project by Greta Morgan from Illinois, offered a lively, communal experience as her eminent joy and passion radiated from her voice and flowing red hair. A sample of Jimmy Meets World's The Middle that rang throughout one of her songs was a highlight.
Mitski was met by the same intrigue I experienced from her audience during another show of hers I attended last October in London. The juxtaposition of her opening remarks, in which she timidly thanked the fans that had waited to meet her before the show in her distinctly shy and humble demeanor, against her work that heavily features a shredding electric guitar, harsh, steady beats, and occasional passionate yelling, only gave more context to her consistently devoted performances and truly emotional, poetic lyrics.
From discovering Mitski's blog, where her biggest identifier was a photograph of a building, the cover artwork for her sophomore album Bury Me at Makeout Creek, attached to a Tumblr audio post of a personal favorite song, First Love/Late Spring, to clicking though her website that was once just a Bandcamp page, to finding her performances such as NPR's tiny desk concert feature circulating social media, it seems Mitski is on her way to mainstream success.
I say this without disdain or worry, though. Her encore performance of Class of 2013 with which she encored, suggested that no matter a possibly changing sound or shifting subject matter in the future, her emotion and fearlessness will remain present. She held guitar up to to her face, to an overwhelmed audience, and sang into the strings,
"Mom, would you wash my back?
This once and then we can forget
And I'll leave what I'm chasing..."