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Watching Mitski perform at my desk, there are moments when I was worried for her. In her opening song, "Townie," the boys "are driving and they'll be drinking" — and a verse later, Mitski sings of love in ways that feel vengeful, not fruitful.
And I want a love that falls as fast
As a body from the balcony, and
I want a kiss like my heart is hitting the ground
I'm holding my breath with a baseball bat
Though I don't know what I'm waiting for
I am not gonna be what my daddy wants me to be
Moments later, she holds her guitar high with her mouth close to the pickup, which acts like a microphone as she screams to her mother for help:
Mom, would you wash my back?
This once, and then we can forget
And I'll leave what I'm chasing
For the other girls to pursue
Mom, am I still young?
Can I dream for a few months more?
Then, she closes with a song of dying in the hope of leaving a tidy room and being well-regarded when they come get her things. If it all sounds depressing, it is, but the glimmer of beauty comes in her smile and laugh at the end of her set. It's part nerves, part angst, and it all makes for a heartfelt performance sans filters: That's why Mitski Miyawaki is such an incredible performer. At night, at a club with the lights down and drinks in hand, it can be more pensive for all — more thought-provoking. But here in an office, the starkness somehow makes her music even scarier.
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Walker, Lani Milton; Assistant Producer: Elena Saavedra Buckley; photo by Lydia Thompson/NPR
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