Mitski and Tamino draped a constellation of self reflection, wins, loses, love and yearning over the audience in Philly Tuesday night. They sold out the Met, filling the seats with excitable and eager fans hoping to absorb the vibrant realness of a Mitski performance — in this case, a her biggest headlining performance to date in Philly.
Center stage with his guitars on one side of him and his pedals on the other, Tamino had a very commanding presence. He’s tall, his dark hair wavy but kept, and his face statuesque, like an ancient Roman morose bust. The Met audience seemed hesitant towards Tamino at first. And then he opened his mouth.
Each feeling as robust and rich as the next, Tamino’s carefully selected instruments and deep, yet adept voice placed Tuesday’s crowd in a trance. Some seemed to fawn over him so much, they loudly expressed their attraction. Early in the set, the higher melody Tamino sings in “My Dearest Friend And Enemy” off Sahar felt stirring. Later, “Habibi” from Amir spun that web around the audience lyrically in describing the burning and yearning for a past love.
Emitting a sense of intimacy and closeness, in the same vein as the feelings his lyrics provide, Tamino told the audience he had started on a new song earlier that week. Without another word, he played it for the audience.Gratefully so, the crowd was drawn in closer knowing more from Tamino was coming soon.
A curtain concealing center stage burned bright red, glowing over the first few rows of The Met. “Everyone” off Laurel Hell began to play, Mitski emerging from behind the curtain, singing directly to it.Disappearing behind the curtain again, she became a shadow contorting her arms. Suddenly the bright red curtain dropped with a flash of light revealing Mitski standing on a platform, her band forming a stage spanning arch behind her.The crowd roared with excitement. Mitski always has the eye for drama (or chaos, as she would put it).
Following a sensual performance of “Working for the Knife,” Mitski stood in the center circle and took a breath. Looking around The Met she joked with the audience about noticing all the “M”s around, graciously admiring the attention to detail for the evening. Diva was her stage persona that night, she decided: “It’s so nice to see me,” she colorfully said with a straight-ish face.
The bareness of Mitski’s stage set up brought out the child-like, music box ballerina physicality of Mitski’s bold delivery.The elevated circular platform either figuratively or physically provided a barrier, sometimes a cage of bright white spotlights from which Mitski tried to escape.She rapidly back rolled as she was pushed back by an invisible entity. And she romantically slow danced with her microphone stand or a spotlight itself, which felt magical and dream-like during “Heaven” from last year’s acclaimed The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We album.
Two black thick plastic chairs were recurring characters throughout Mitski’s set Tuesday night at The Met. They served no single purpose, but the symbolic nature of how they were used was subtly impactful. During “The Deal,” she dragged one chair around the other. Later she stood on one of the chairs like she was taking a stand, repeating the ending lyrics “There’s a deal that I made” in a very powerful moment.
No matter what, Mitski feels larger than life, otherworldly, unsurprisingly selling out The Met Tuesday night. Verses, interludes or choruses had precise, choreographed gestures, movements and dance. Sometimes the movements are quite literal, like during “I Love Me After You,”its most concentrated form. Every song has an essence Mitski can only express that way and is deeply meaningful.
Mitski ended her performance Tuesday night with a two-song encore. During “Nobody” off Be the Cowboy,Mitski lowered her voice to unveil the crowd singing “Nobody, nobody, nobody,” back to her. As Mitski and the band finished, a few people popped up and then whole sections until all of The Met was on their feet giving Mitski the standing ovation she always earns.
Mitski is back at The Met tonight for night two of her sold out Philly run; her tour continues with multiple dates in Toronto, Boston, and New York City. Find the full schedule of shows here and see more photos from last night in the gallery belo.