Mitski

support Cajsa Siik
author LF date 15/06/17 venue Ideal Bar, Copenhagen, DEN

When Mitski played at Loppen last year, it was one of those kinds of experiences that made her albums open up and begin to click for me. I have been obsessed with her two newest records since, so of course, I was happy to see her booked in Denmark again so soon, and even at Vega that could maybe present her to a new kind of audience. The show was originally planned for Lille Vega but got moved down, resulting in a crowded, intimate show in the confines of Ideal Bar that is close to sold out. Last time, she brought with her an indie rock band for support but tonight we're in another ballpark...

All pictures by Peter Troest

Cajsa Siik

About ten minutes past 9, when Swedish indie singer-songwriter Cajsa Siik takes the stage, the room is already buzzing and semi-packed with people. As a lonely figure with her guitar on stage, she begins playing her emotional songs with echoing, layered vocals filling out the space we are in. She has an easygoing manner, speaking to us in Swedish between songs about how many cups of coffee she had to drink to be fresh today and chatting shortly with a member in the crowd that turns out to come from the same area as herself. Her vocals are longing and she hits every note with an acute precision that is indeed beautiful in combination with her guitar-playing. It doesn't take long, though, before she turns to a drum-machine for help that, granted, fleshes out her later songs and provides a new dynamic in her set, but mostly it takes away from the delicate openness of her music. As soon as the beat hits, we're not wondering in the same way anymore where the song could go or what sounds come next. So even though songs like "Higher" and "Sad Celebration" have a melancholic appeal and she is good at leading us through her set with little introductions and naming of song titles, the set doesn't open up her music for me as much as I hoped when I was intrigued by her acoustic beginning.

Mitski

When Mitski and her two wonderful bandmates hit the stage about an hour after the first set started, they dive straight into the setlist as Mitski with her bass takes stock of the room and the audience and looks around slowly and curiously. She is one of those artists that manages to blend great and clear indie melodies with a kind of noise rock ideal, and that is even more clear live than on album as her guitarist takes over several key synth themes and rocks out on one side of the stage, although in a very controlled manner. Her drummer plays both the drum kit and an electronic drum pad when needed and provides a great dynamic in his playing, seeming equally careful and precise whether he plays quietly or goes all in. Especially during the first songs, the two seem to be carefully directed by Mitski from time to time as she eyes them sternly when they need to coordinate ends or beginning of new parts of songs, and she doesn't say much through the set. When she does, she speaks warmly but to the point, and people who came here tonight for a kind of emotional live connection with a songwriter they adore might be a little saddened by this. While her lyrics are dramatic, circling through feelings of intense, unrequited love as well as thoughts of death and dealing with growing up, her performance is ironically distanced or at least curiously in control, even when she screams her heart out on "Drunk Walk Home" or "My Body's Made of Crushed Little Stars".

It's wonderful, however, to hear how dynamic the songs are as presented to us here tonight, and to hear some of the more exotic vocal melodies sound even more vibrant here than in their recorded versions, not least on "Townie" and "I Don't Smoke". Appropriately, we get a precisely drummed rendition of "Thursday Girl" as well. While many people up front seem to be mouthing some of the lyrics of songs from time to time, there is only an audible singalong during her hit single "Your Best American Girl". The setlist mixes 8 songs from "Puberty 2" with 7 from "Bury Me at Makeout Creek" and while a few people yell out for a performance of "Fireworks" as Mitski announces her solo encore, we instead get the intense and older "Class of 2013" that has her yelling to her mum into her guitar for extra vibrating reverb effect and an angsty ending of "Mom, am I still young? / Can I dream for a few months more?". Before it, she takes over the guitar and performs the quiet and devastating "A Burning Hill" and "Last Words of a Shooting Star" solo, with possibly her loudest song, the distortion-filled "My Body's Made of Crushed Little Stars", in between. The room is dead silent during the quiet songs, and not even a cough is heard. Her calm but controlled manner on stage clearly commands attention and she has ours all the way through her set tonight. For her fans, a lot of talk between the very communicative and clearly sung songs might not be necessary, but especially for newcomers, a little more guidance through a set like this could really expand the experience. Overall then, there isn't a fault to point to soundwise or concerning the setlist, but still, I get the feeling that I haven't seen my very best Mitski show yet.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Dan the Dancer
  • 2. Francis Forever
  • 3. I Don't Smoke
  • 4. First Love / Late Spring
  • 5. I Bet on Losing Dogs
  • 6. Townie
  • 7. Thursday Girl
  • 8. Your Best American Girl
  • 9. Once More to See You
  • 10. Drunk Walk Home
  • 11. I Will
  • 12. Happy
  • 13. A Burning Hill (solo)
  • 14. My Body's Made of Crushed Little Stars (solo)
  • 15. Last Words of a Shooting Star (solo)
  • 16. Class of 2013 (solo)

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