Words and Photography: Liz Garcia
Mitski, along with badass lady acts, Steady Holiday and Kadhja Bonet, played a sold out show at the Wonder Ballroom Sunday night. Eager fans arrived early, the line already stretching down the sidewalk a half hour before the doors opened.
The night began with short but sweet performance from Steady Holiday. Dre Babinski, who is the woman behind Steady Holiday, took the stage all on her own and killed. Just her and the microphone, Babinksi played a set of songs from her 2016 album and her EP Terror, just released this month. She opened with eerie lullaby, “Open Water,” off Under the Influence. Throughout the whole performance, Babinski was non-stop.When she wasn’t singing, she was playing her guitar, and when she wasn’t playing guitar, she was rocking out on the violin. Half-way through her set she asked the crowd, “Do I look more like a magician or Dolly Parton?” After a back and forth between Babinski and the crowd, it was decided she looked like a magician at a Dolly Parton show. Steady Holiday said goodbye with “So Long,” leaving behind a blissful haze in the air.
Next on stage was Kadhja Bonet, with her fusion of R&B and jazz rock. The L.A. artist undoubtedly wowed the audience with her amazing voice. Bonet sung soaring notes for the crowd on “Honeycomb”, and “Fairweather Friend,” both off her album, The Visitor, released late last year. It was a special night for Bonet, because her childhood best friend was among the crowd. She also included single, “Remember the Rain” in her set. She finished sweeping away the audience with a cover of John Lennon’s “Yesterday.”
Much to the surprise of fans, Mitski herself came on to help set up equipment. When she came on (officially) she tried a few notes on her bass guitar and followed it with a motion to turn up the volume, a clear indicator of where the night was heading. As soon as the opening guitar notes of “Dan the Dancer,” played out the crowd came alive. In contrast to the heavy guitar of the last song, she followed with “Once More to See You,” also from her fourth studio album released last year, Puberty 2. Mitski then played a string of older songs. Still, whether she was playing new songs or older ones, or singing slowly and beautifully or howling into the microphone, the audience was one-hundred percent in love with Mitski. Also in her set was “Townie,” off 2014’s Bury Me at Makeout Creek. The more underrated Mitski song resonated with the crowd, in a way, even embracing it as an anthem of their own, as Mitski sang “Though I don’t know what I’m waiting for, I am not gonna be what my daddy wants me to be.” She couldn’t help but notice the division in the audience. She paused to dub the all-ages section, adolescence, and the 21+ section, adulthood, and the space between she called “puberty.”
Mitski was a complete powerhouse during “Thursday Girl.” However, when she played her hit, “Your Best American Girl,” she reached a whole different level. First, moving the crowd with the slow and sentimental beginning then making the them lose it as she blared, “I guess I couldn’t help trying to be your best American girl,” into the microphone while she strummed away with every ounce of energy in her. The uproar in the crowd only continued, as Mitski screamed “Fuck you and your money,” during “Drunk Walk Home.” The night became intimate as she spoke softly into the mic, saying, “I’ll do a few songs alone now, if that’s okay.” Which, of course, was more than okay with the crowd. The lights dimmed and she began, alone she sang the short and sweet, “A Burning Hill” and followed with hard driving and purposefully loud strumming on “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars.” All the while, Mitski matched the level of intensity of her guitar playing with her voice and her raw power was unleashed; the crowd reveling in every second of it.
Then she declared she was playing her final song serenely responding, “Everything ends,” to a comment of protest from an audience member. She took the crowd back to the early days of Mitski, as she ended with the reminisceful, “Class of 2013.” After she finished, she whispered a soft and sincere thank you to the crowd before vanishing off the stage.