The allusive star delivers a cinematic night
Millie O'Brien
10:35 30th April 2022

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Mitski poses the question to a sold out Roundhouse, ‘Do you feel good?’

Everyone as Roundhouse thinks, ‘Yes Mitski, I do.’

This call and response came as one of the only moments of crowd interaction from Mitski in the midst of a 90 minute set of her strange avant-pop-rock tracks that are almost impossible to define.. Opening the show with two of her most upbeat songs ‘Love Me More’ and ‘Should’ve Been Me’ from her latest album ‘Laurel Hell’, Mitski effortlessly mismatches lyrics about the turmoils of heartbreak and solitude with 80s synthy bops, inevitably getting everyone dancing.

The energy is incredible considering the fight there was to get in. As the line snaked down streets and round corners, far into the depths of Camden, the majority of the crowd missed the support even when arriving pre-doors. Despite being a regular sold out show, it almost felt impossible that this many people could fit inside as the new wave of teen fans came down like an army and stuck out the hours long queue like champs.

If you’d never succumbed and downloaded Tik Tok, I can imagine that the general demographic of the crowd would be incredibly surprising. Walking down the line, the average age made you feel like being over 20 was old and uncool, but it was safe. These aren’t the kids that would have bullied you at school. For any typical teen concert you would picture an act that is either a pouty heartthrob or a polished pop girl, but it’s clear these Mistki-fied teens are a lot more sophisticated. After ‘Nobody’ blew up on the app, the cult grew from there - with every crowd member in sight screaming ‘NOBODY NO BODY NOBODY’ at the top of their lungs, louder than any other word of the night.

And don’t mistake this for slander, it was genuinely heartwarming to see so many young girls and queer kids bond over such amazing music and create such a safe and happy environment. Singing back lyrics about Mitski’s loneliness and existentialism, I hope she felt secure in the knowledge that now more than ever she’s not along, with a whole new generation of fans getting involved. The noticeable lack of bar queue and tall people obstructing the view was an added bonus.

The setlist spanned across her albums, playing her hits like ‘I Bet on Losing Dogs’ and ‘Me & My Husband’ and some not-so-hits, but nevertheless keeping the crowd totally hooked. Not to mention, any time Mitski wasn’t pouring her soul into the microphone, she was practicing her wildest, theatrical, avant-garde dance moves and punching the air. A lot. With arms raised up like subjects at a sermon, the audience stayed hanging on every word, regardless of the track. As what used to be a cult figure, it was nice to see the younger crowd engaging with old material that had yet to make it to the app, clear diving deep into the back catalogue to earn their coveted ticket.

Despite this, there was a sense of detachment throughout the set, which in itself is pretty Mistki-esque. She followed a rigid setlist (which she has played at every show on this tour) and there was distinct lack of interaction with the crowd, which for a performer, felt unusually ego-less. Even down to the stage lighting which is more veiling than illuminating, she refuses to really relish in the attention of being a performer as we never really get a clear look at her. Even as the crowd sing along, the atmosphere is more of awe than obsession, as there’s a definite sense no one here claims to truly know or even understand her, and that’s just how she likes it.

As she sung ‘Working for the knife’ all of this detachment was put into perspective. In 2019, she announced at a New York show that it would be her “last show indefinitely” whilst since publicly saying she wants to make her money and then dip again. As Mitski works for the knife, her performance becomes an ironic commentary of itself, going through the motions until she can leave. But in the midst of it all, this is all part of her charm - her songs and her persona are relentlessly enigmatic.

Closing the night with a trio of bangers from Pitchfork’s Album of the Year Be The Cowboy including a stunning, closing rendition of the coming-of-age-esque ‘Two Slow Dancers’ as the Mitski cult swayed and lit the Roundhouse with their iPhone torches. It felt like the credits rolling after a good film, five stars.

See photos from the night by Zac Mahrouche:

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Photo: Zac Mahrouche