Show Review: Mitski Shines at MGM Music Hall

Photos by Claire Dunham

By Claire Dunham, Music Coordinator

Artist: Mitski

Where: MGM Music Hall at Fenway

When: Friday, February 16th 

Dressed in a plain, white button-down, immersed in beaming stage lights and supported by a band of superb musicians, Mitski performs with care. Everything—from the fantastical choreography and intricate set design to the pitch-perfect vocals—emits an air of meticulous self-control. 

After 12 years, seven albums, and an immeasurable number of live shows, the indie multi-hyphenate has become an unparalleled force in the music world. And on Friday, February 16th, I had a chance to experience this “Mitski magic” firsthand. 


As audience members filed into the dimly-lit venue, a feeling of reverence floated through the space. Looking around, I caught glimpses of eager-looking eyes and anticipatory smiles— a shared understanding that this concert could, and probably would, alter our lives. 

With an acoustic guitar slung across his chest, singer-songwriter Tamino stood nonchalantly on the massive MGM Music Hall stage. Lit by a single spotlight and dressed in an unassuming shirt-pants combination, he opened his mouth and soon a dreamy bellow echoed throughout the cavernous room. I sat back in my (surprisingly comfortable) foldable chair and let the hypnotic sound enrapture me. Eventually, he swapped out his acoustic guitar for an electric one and started strumming, his voice flawlessly shifting from a determined belt to a floating, transcendent falsetto. Dripping with dream-like elegance, Tamino’s opening set entranced the entire audience, preparing us for a night of celestial wonder. 


After she announced an indefinite hiatus in 2019, many fans questioned whether Mitski would perform again. But these short-lived worries were squashed in 2022 when she released Laurel Hell, an ’80s synth-heavy exploration of love, power and the oppressive demands of capitalism. Soon thereafter, she embarked on the Laurell Hell Tour, taking her conceptual performance style to fans around the world. Then, once again, she slipped away from the public eye to reset and write. 

The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, released in September, marks Mitski’s seventh album. Rooted in its stripped-down folk sound, the record’s lyrics represent a masterclass in storytelling. Mitski collages together emotions and anecdotes to create a reflection of her life; one that relishes in its simplicity and clarity. This storytelling also takes precedence at Mitski’s live shows. Each movement has meaning. 

As “Everyone,” the first number, started to play, Mistki sauntered out on stage and approached a center platform. Wide-eyed and mesmerized, I leaned forward. A curtain hung from the ceiling, and its magnificent hemline brushed the stage. Mistki slipped behind the fabric and commenced a routine of shadow choreography. The projection of her shadow towered over the audience, transforming her into a god-like figure. But this brief illusion was suddenly ripped away when the monstrous curtain fell, revealing Mitski standing alone on the platform. No longer a god, but instead, a person. Or as she described herself, “an island.”



In many ways, a Mitski concert is an avant-garde musical. With only a small circular platform, two wooden chairs, and strings that hung luminous shards, she transported the audience to an otherworldly galaxy. 

In this intergalactic place, Mitski sang hits like “My Love Mine All Mine,” a breathtaking ballad dedicated to the moon, surrounded by glimmering pieces of reflective material. Despite its repetitive lyrics and deceivingly simple melody, Mitski’s live performance of the track packed a strong emotional punch. Forcing many fans, like myself, to stifle our uncontrollable sniffles and tears.

Suddenly, the stage lights flashed red and Mitski trembled out the first lyrics of “Last words of a Shooting Star.” At this moment, Mitski radiated with power, becoming god-like once again, controlling each dangling set piece with a single hand gesture. 

For much of the concert, Mistki interacted with her set pieces like scene partners: slow dancing with a tunnel of light during “Heaven,” and later, during “I Don’t Like My Mind,” clawing at the light beams like an entrapped animal. Through these interactions, Mitski nurtured this imaginative world, while simultaneously depicting themes of power, control and destruction. 


Not one to adhere to the boundaries of traditional musical genres, Mitski launched into a mashup of Americana, ’80s synth and messy grunge sounds. She played a variety of fresh acoustic songs from The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We and even early 2010s alternative anthems like “I Don’t Smoke,” all with an infectious country twang. This shift in sound, embellished by her unique choreography (including a jubilant country-western line dance routine), added a surprising playfulness to Mitski’s most tragic songs. 

This juxtaposition between the comedic and tragic lingered throughout the show. Songs like “Pink in the Night” — whose lyrics scream with unfiltered desperation — blossomed into euphoric dance numbers with up-beat rhythmic drumming and bright metallic clinking. Similarly, “I Bet on Losing Dogs” — an equally devastating song — was doused in lightheartedness when Mistki performed the entire number on all fours, imitating the dog she depicts in her lyrics. 

I couldn’t help but giggle as I watched Mitski prance about the stage during these songs. Watching the show progress, it became obvious that this joy was not for show, but a true manifestation of her inner emotional maturity—which she acknowledged in an Instagram post saying, “But now that I’m older, stronger, kinder, more experienced, and more confident, I find that I have more room to be playful; I finally feel ready to have FUN!” 



As the concert neared its end, the crowd joined in on Mitski’s fun. Throughout the final encore, consisting of “Nobody” and “Washing Machine Heart” (two songs from her 2018 album Be the Cowboy), fans jumped to their feet. Many danced, clapped and sang along as Mitski chanted the unvarying yet melodically climactic lyric, “Nobody,” 14 times in a row. 

The pressure cooker of emotional tension that Mitski fueled throughout the show finally exploded with “Washing Machine Heart.” A lyrically dense, but vibrant-sounding song that concludes in a similarly repetitious manner with the demanding question, “Why not me? Why not me?”

Ultimately, this bubbly encore encapsulates the genius of Mitski’s discography. There is balance in everything if we go searching for it. There is no comedy without tragedy, pleasure without pain, or community without isolation. Mitski doesn’t shy away from these complexities, instead she welcomes them with open arms and serves them to her fans on a golden platter.

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