We will never see Mitski in a venue as small as Trees ever again.
The New York-based indie sensation is on the road in support of her 2018 full-length album Be the Cowboy, and every date of the tour is sold out. This tour includes four consecutive dates at the 1,800-capacity venue Brooklyn Steel in New York, and there are tickets for the Nov. 30 date being scalped on StubHub for $161.
The FOMO was especially present in Dallas, where the line at Trees snaked from the box office all the way to the parking lot on July Alley. One of Trees’ security personnel was tasked with walking down the line and X-ing the hands of any minors present, and judging by the number of people who came with their parents, Sharpies apparently hold enough ink to drown a herd of livestock.
The venue was packed like a sardine can in as little as 20 minutes, and at 8 p.m. on the dot, openers Overcoats took the stage. Upon arrival, they received lukewarm applause from the audience, who were just excited that anything at all was happening that could make the wait for Mitski more bearable. Despite this, the applause for the New York-based pop duo got progressively louder, especially as vocalist JJ Mitchell declared, “The future is believing women.”
Overcoats performed a rather interesting hybrid of minimalist electro-pop (think Lorde’s Pure Heroine) and harmonious folk/Americana reminiscent of Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams. The duo’s emotional catharsis was on full display with slower, more folk-oriented cuts such as “Walk On” and “23,” but at times, their performance exuded a more energetic vibe. The band ended their 45-minute set with the pop banger “Leave the Light On” and exited the stage following a more enthusiastic ovation from the crowd of 700 attendees.
During the 25-minute intermission, the audience waited anxiously as jazz music curated by artist management played in the background. A fog machine located stage right started emitting a gratuitous amount of smoke in the minutes leading to Mitski’s highly anticipated set, which kicked off around 9:10 p.m. to rapturous applause.
The singer-songwriter immediately took control of the room as she kicked off her set with “Remember My Name,” a fuzzy, abrasive number that starts with the lyric, “I gave too much of my heart tonight.”
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Mitski’s vocal prowess is truly a sound to behold. It is striking how she flows between low and high vocal registers nonchalantly and manages to consistently economize the breath in her lungs when others would be winded, especially on tracks such as “Goodbye, My Danish Sweetheart,” where she sings in a rich, colorful vibrato with ease.
The movements Mitski made on stage appeared to be calculated in their unusual emphasis on body language. At times, she would move her fingers around her torso or keep her arms behind her back. While performing the song “Townie,” she violently gyrated her head, and during the song “Francis Forever,” she paced back and forth onstage. Early into the set, she pulled out a folding chair, laid her back on it, and cycled her legs in the air in the middle of “Dan the Dancer.”
Toward the end of the set, Mitski managed to make a room of 700 people way smaller as the rest of the band left the stage, leaving her by herself to perform “A Burning Hill” on her acoustic guitar. This feeling of intimacy was extended during her highly demanded encore with the song “Two Slow Dancers,” whose moodiness was enhanced with its Casiotone instrumentation.
From beginning to end, Mitski commanded the stage and gave the audience an experience that will never happen in a room as small as Trees ever again. If you missed it, you blew it.