An amazing show plus the kind of crowd every artist could only ever dream of playing to
Much has been said about the behavior of fans at the start of the Laurel Hell tour, especially with regards to cell phone usage. I don’t know how much of a worry it continues to be in the hearts of not only Mitski fans, but as well as fans of just about any musical act, especially as we continue to adjust while returning to live shows. Let’s just say it would have been more than understandable if that was the biggest point of hesitation someone would have had before hitting “yes” to tickets to events by artists with this level of pull. It continues to be an ongoing conversation, as it should be.
Experience written about here definitely isn’t trying to invalidate the feelings or experiences of frustrated fans. That being said—and I don’t say any of this lightly, especially not to invalidate the feelings or experiences of fans who continue to be frustrated by such behaviors at live shows—from the moment the lights dimmed signaling the start of night two of MItski’s time at Roadrunner, followed by the arrival of Mitski’s band, before her graceful, absorbing, and phantomesque entrance, her fans made it clear from their cheers—screams more like it—as well as shouts of her name that it was all about her, that this was very much Mitski’s show and her show alone. There would be neither time nor space for foolishness. The focus was very much on the music and the performance.
And they showed it in the hour that followed. There wasn’t a song in her setlist that was left untouched by the chorus of passionate fans’ chanting along. If the songs in her catalog, released over the course of six albums, including this year’s very wonderful Laurel Hell, were already anthemic to the young members of these current generations, they took on a whole new form over the course of this Wednesday night. The jivey, catchy art poppy mannerisms of “Me and My Husband” would be welcomed by a wave of cheers before Mitski shared vocal duties with her fans. No matter where you stood in the crowd, you could feel pit after pit open once those trademarked, noisy opening riffs of “Townie” began to pour out of the speakers. And Retired from Sad… deep cut “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart” continued to prove why it has pretty much solidified its presence in every Mitski set, what with its instantly recognizable opening melody opening the gates to scores of even more applause.
I can’t recall a single moment where a song on the setlist wasn’t received with a blissful fervor from the crowd. Mitski and her band only had to play a few notes from the next segment before the crowd ate up every last harmonious morsel of what was presented to them without the tiniest sliver of hesitation.
Like on night one, Mitski was joined by The Weather Station. The Tamara Lindeman-fronted band, playing as one their familiar blend of folk jazz and experimental rock, did extremely well in setting up a joyous night of live music. This was a crowd that was ready for what was in store for them, and you could feel it in their energy from as early as The Weather Station’s set; they afforded The Weather Station the same amount of respect they would go on to give to Mitski.
For as much as has been said, felt, and experienced regarding the conduct of fans of concerts, especially artists such as Mitski whose star has only accelerated north since her return to the stage, you would be hard pressed to find a more well-behaved crowd than at the second night of Mitski at Roadrunner. Those in attendance wanted to be there at night; not once did they lack in spirit. It’s the kind of audience every artist could only ever dream of playing to every single night.
Jose is a writer and photographer based in Providence, Rhode Island who shoots under the moniker Unobstructed Space. He has neither aversion nor preference to any particular kind of artist or show — what he does love is capturing artists at the apex of their performative skills.