By Graeme Wiggins
October 30, 2018
Part way through Mitski’s set at the Imperial she took time in between songs to explain why she spent time to move her mic stand and chair prop off stage and back on occasionally between songs. It turns out that this momentary move away from performance was in fact performance itself, inspired by watching Iggy Pop picking up a mic after a song in which he had angrily thrown it to the ground. It was a charming admission and nicely displayed the complicated duality that Mitski enters in her performance, balancing cool art-pop nonchalance with the naked vulnerability that her music can display.
Mitski put on a great show, her performance mixing dancing like a malfunctioning robot, performative pacing and the cold vulnerability of just standing behind the mic stand. While the spotlight was clearly on her and her amazing voice, her strong backing band gave the loud/quiet dynamic a lent of her songs display an extra jolt. The songs that emphasize that aspect worked best “Your Best American Girl” or “Geyser” while slightly less dynamic songs like disco-inflected recent single “Nobody” fared slightly less well although it was clearly a crowd favourite.
She ended her set strongly, but quietly, donning an acoustic guitar to perform “A Burning Hill.” While that was moving, it was shortly eclipsed by the encore opener “Two Slow Dancers” a quiet, moving, slow burn that likely drew more than one tear. It takes confidence to end a set on these quiet numbers (she did play an unreleased, more upbeat number to end the encore but after those two it didn’t stand a chance,) but the self-assured move paid off, leaving on such a moving note.